SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
EARL DERR DIGGERS
GROSSET & DUNLAP
The Bobbs-Merrill Company
I "Weep No More, My Lady" .
II Enter a Lovelorn Haberdasher
III Blondes and Suffragettes
IV A Professional Hermit Appears
V The Mayor Casts a Shadow Before
VI Ghosts of the Summer Crowd
VII The Mayor Begins a Vigil
VIII Mr. Max Tells a Tale of Suspicion
IX Melodrama in the Snow .
X The Cold Gray Dawn
XI A Falsehood Under the Palms
XII Woe in Number Seven
XIII The Exquisite Mr. Hayden
XIV The Sign of the Open Window
XV Table Talk ....
XVI A Man from the Dark
XVII The Professor Sums Up .
XVIII A Red Card ....
XIX Exeunt Omnes, as Shakespeare Has It
XX The Admiral's Game
XXI The Mayor is Welcomed Home
XXII The Usual Thing .
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SEVEN KEYS TO
"weep no more, my lady"
A YOUNG woman was crying bitterly in the
1 \ waiting-room of the railway station at
Upper Asquewan Falls, New York.
A beautiful young woman? That is exactly
what Billy Magee wanted to know as, closing the
waiting-room door behind him, he stood staring
just inside. Were the features against which that
frail bit of cambric was agonizingly pressed of a
pleasing contour? The girl's neatly tailored cor-
duroy suit and her flippant but charming millinery
augured well. Should he step gallantly forward
, and inquire in sympathetic tones as to the cause of
her woe? Should he carry chivalry even to the
lengths of Upper Asquewan Falls?
2 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
No, Mr. Magee decided he would not. The
train that had just roared away into the dusk
had not brought him from the region of sky-
scrapers and derby hats for deeds of knight er-
rantry up state. Anyhow, the girl's tears were
none of his business. A railway station was a
natural place for grief — a field of many partings,
upon whose floor fell often in torrents the tears
of those left behind. A friend, mayhap a lover,
had been whisked off into the night by the relent-
less five thirty-four local. Why not a lover? Sure-
ly about such a dainty trim figure as this courtiers
hovered as moths about a flame. Upon a tender
intimate sorrow it was not the place of an un-
known Magee to intrude. He put his hand gently
upon the latch of the door.
And yet^ — dim and heartless and cold was the
interior of that waiting-room. No place, surely,
for a gentleman to leave a lady sorrowful, par-
ticularly when the lady was so alluring. Oh, be-
yond question, she was most alluring. Mr. Magee
stepped softly to the ticket window and made
low-voiced inquiry of the man inside.
"What's she crying about?" he asked.
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 3
A thin sallow face, on the forehead of whicH
a mop of ginger-colored hair lay listlessly, was
pressed against the bars.
"Thanks," said the ticket agent. "I get asked
the same old questions so often, one like yours
sort of breaks the monotony. Sorry I can't help
you. She's a woman, and the Lord pnly knows
why women cry. And sometimes I reckon even
He must be a little puzzled. Now, my wife — "
"I think I'll ask her," confided Mr. Magee in
a hoarse whisper.
*'0h, I wouldn't," advised the man behind the
bars. "It's best to let 'em alone. They stop quick-
er if they ain't noticed."
'But she's in trouble," argued Billy Magee.
'And so'll you be, most likely," responded the
cynic, "if you interfere. No, siree! Take my
advice. Shoot old Asquewan's rapids in a barrel
if you want to, but keep away from crying
The heedless Billy Magee, however, was al-
ready moving across the unscrubbed floor with
The girl's trim shoulders no longer heaved so
4 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
unhappily. Mr. Magee, approaching, thought
himself again in the college yard at dusk, with the
great elms sighing overhead, and the fresh young
voices of the glee club ringing out from the steps
of a century-old building. What were the words
they sang so many times ?
"Weep no more, my lady.
Oh ! weep no more to-day."
He regretted that he could not make use of
them. They had always seemed to him so sad and
beautiful. But troubadours, he knew, went out of
fashion long before railway stations came in. So
his remark to the young woman was not at all me-
"Can I do anything?"
A. portion of the handkerchief was removed,
and an eye which, Mr. Magee noted, was of an
admirable blue, peeped out at him. To the gaze
of even a solitary eye, Mr. Magee's aspect was
decidedly pleasing. Young Williams, who posed at
the club as a wit, had once said that Billy Magee
came as near to being a magazine artist's idea of
the proper hero of a story as any man could, and
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 5
af the same time retain the respect and affection
of his fellows. Mr. Magee thought he read ap-
proval in the lone eye of blue. When the lady
spoke, however, he hastily revised his opinion.
"Yes," she said, "you can do something. You
can go away — far, far away."
Mr. Magee stiffened. Thus chivalry fared in
Upper Asquewan Falls in the year 191 1.
"I beg your pardon," he remarked. "You
seemed to be in trouble, and I thought I might
possibly be of some assistance^"
The girl removed the entire handkerchief. The
other eye proved to be the same admirable blue —
a blue half-way between the shade of her cordu-
roy suit and that of the jacky's costume in the
"See the World — Join the Navy" poster that
served as background to her woe.
"I don't mean to be rude," she explained more
gently, "but — I'm crying, you see, and a girl
simply can't look attractive when she cries."
"If I had only been regularly introduced to
you, and all that," responded Mr. Magee, "I could
make a very flattering reply." And a true one, he
added to himself. For even in the faint flicker-
5 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
ing light of the station he found ample reason for
rejoicing that the bit of cambric was no longer
agonizingly pressed. As yet he had scarcely
looked away from her eyes, but he was dimly
aware that up above wisps of golden hair peeped
impudently from beneath a saucy black hat. He
would look at those wisps shortly, he told him-
self. As soon as he could look away frpm the
eyes — which was not just yet.
"My grief," said the girl, "is utterly silly and —
womanish. I think it would be best to leave me
alone with it. Thank you for your interest. And
— would you mind asking the gentleman who is
pressing his face so feverishly against the bars to
kindly close his window ?"
"Certainly," replied Mr. Magee. He turned
away. As he did so he collided with a rather ex-
cessive lady. She gave the impression of solidity
and bulk ; her mouth was hard and knowing. Mr.
Magee felt that she wanted to vote, and that she
would say as much from time to time. The lady
had a glittering eye ; she put it to its time-honored
use and fixed Mr. Magee with it.
*T was crying, mamma," the girl explained.
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 7
"and this gentleman Inquired if he could be of any
Mamma! Mr. Magee wanted to add his tears
to those of the girl. This frail and lovely damsel
in distress owning as her maternal parent a heavy
unnecessary — person ! The older woman also had
yellow hair, but it was the sort that suggests the
white enamel pallor of a drug store, with the soda-
fountain fizzing and the bottles of perfume ranged
in an odorous row. Mamma! Thus rolled the
"Well, they ain't no use gettin' all worked up
for nothing," advised the unpleasant parent. Mr.
Magee was surprised that in her tone there was no
hostility to him — ^thus belying her looks. "Mebbe
the gentleman can direct us to a good hotel," she
added, with a rather stagy smile.
"I'm a stranger here, too," Mr. Magee replied.'
"Fll interview the man over there in the cage."
The gentleman referred to was not cheerful in
his replies. There was, he said, Baldpate Inn.
"Oh, yes, Baldpate Inn," repeated Billy Magee
"Yes, that's a pretty swell place," said the ticket
'8 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
agent "But it ain't open now. It's a summer re-
sort. There ain't no place open now but the Com-
mercial House. And I wouldn't recommend no
human being there — especially no lady who was
sad before she ever saw it."
Mr. Magee explained to the incongruous family
pair waiting on the bench.
"There's only one hotel," he said, "and I'm
told it's not exactly the place for any one whose
outlook on life is not rosy at the moment. I'm
"It will do very well," answered the girl, "what-
ever it is." She smiled at Billy Magee. "My out-
look on life in Upper Asquewan Falls," she said,
"grows rosier every minute. We must find a
She began to gather up her traveling-bags, and
Mr. Magee hastened to assist. The three went
out on the station platform, apon which lay a thin
carpet of snowflakes. There the older woman, in
a harsh rasping voice, found fault with Upper
Asquewan Falls, — its geography, its public spirit,
its brand of weather. A dejected cab at the end
of the platform stood mourning its lonely lot. In
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 9
it Mr. Magee placed the large lady and the bags.
Then, while the driver climbed to his seat, he
spoke into the invisible ear of the girl.
*'You haven't told me why you cried," he re-
She waved her hand toward the wayside village,
the lamps of which shone sorrowfully through the
"Upper Asquewan Falls," she said, "isn't it
Billy Magee looked ; saw a row of gloomy build-
ings that seemed to list as the wind blew, a blurred
sign "Liquors and Cigars," a street that staggered
away into the dark like a man who had lingered
too long at the emporium back of the sign.
"Are you doomed to stay here long?" he asked.
"Come on, Mary," cried a deep voice from the
cab. "Get in and shut the door. I'm freezing."
"It all depends," said the girl. "Thank you for
being so kind and — good night."
The door closed with a muffled bang, the cab
creaked wearily away, and Mr. Magee turned back
to the dim waiting-room.
"Well, what was she crying for?" inquired the
10 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
ticket agent, when Mr. Magee stood again at his
''She didn't think much of your town," re-
sponded Magee ; "she intimated that it made her
heavy of heart."
"H'm — it ain't much of a place," admitted the
man, "though it ain't the general rule with visitors
to burst into tears at sight of it. Yes, Upper As-
•quewan is slow, and no mistake. It gets on my
nerves sometimes. Nothing to do but work, work,
work, and then lay down and wait for to-morrow.
I used to think maybe some day they'd transfer
me down to Hooperstown — there's moving pic-
tures and such goings-on down there. But the
railroad never notices you — unless you go wrong.
Yes, sir, sometimes I want to clear out of this
"A natural wanderlust," sympathized Mr. Ma-
gee. "You said something just now about Bald-
pate Inn — "
"Yes, it's a little more lively in summer, when
■that's open," answered the agent ; "we get a lot of
complaints about trunks not coming, from pretty
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY ii
swell people, too. It sort of cheers things." HI3
eye roamed with interest over Mr. Magee's New
York attire. ''But Baldpate Inn is shut up tight
now. This is nothing but an annex to a grave-
yard in winter. You wasn't thinking of stopping
off here, was you?"
"Well — I want to see a man named ElijaH
Quimby," Mr. Magee replied. "Do you know
"Of course," said the yearner for pastures new,
"he's caretaker of the inn. His house is about a
mile out, on the old Miller Road that leads up
Baldpate. Come outside and I'll tell you how to
The two men went out into the whirling snow,
and the agent waved a hand indefinitely up at the
"If it was clear," he said, "you could see Bald-
pate Mountain, over yonder, looking down on the
Falls, sort of keeping an eye on us to make sure
we don't get reckless. And half-way up you'd see
Baldpate Inn, black and peaceful and winter-y.
Just follow this street to the third corner, and
12 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
turn to your left. Elijah lives in a little house
back among the trees a mile out — ^there's a gate
you'll sure hear creaking on a night like this."
Billy Magee thanked him, and gathering up his
two bags, walked up "Main Street." A dreary
forbidding building at the first corner bore the
sign "Commercial House". Under the white gas-
light in the office window three bom pessimists
slouched low in hotel chairs, gazing sourly out at
Weep no more, my lady,
Oh ! weep no more to-day/'
hummed Mr. Magee cynically under his breath,
and glanced up at the solitary up-stairs window
that gleamed yellow in the night.
At a corner on which stood a little shop that ad-
vertised "Groceries and Provisions" he paused.
"Let me see," he pondered. "The lights will be
turned off, of course. Candles. And a little some-
thing for the inner man, in case it's the closed sea-
son for cooks."
He went inside, where a weary old woman
served him. .
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 13
"What sort of candles ?" she inquired, with the
air of one who had an infinite variety in stock.
Mr. Magee remembered that Christmas was near.
"For a Christmas tree," he explained. He asked
for two hundred.
"I've only got forty," the woman said. "What's
this tree for — the Orphans' Home ?"
With the added burden of a package containing
his purchases in the tiny store, Mr. Magee
emerged and continued his journey through the
stinging snow. Upper Asquewan Falls on its way
home for supper flitted past him in the silvery
darkness. He saw in the lighted windows of
many of the houses the green wreath of Christ-
mas cheer. Finally the houses became infrequent,
and he struck out on an uneven road that wound
upward. Once he heard a dog's faint bark. Then
a carriage lurched by him, and a strong voice
cursed the roughness of the road. Mr. Magee
half smiled to himself as he strode on. ^
"Don Quixote, my boy," he muttered, "I know
how you felt when you moved on the windmills."
It was not the whir of windmills but the creak
of a gate in the storm that brought Mr. Magee at
14 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
last to a stop. He walked gladly up the path to
Elijah Quimby's door.
In answer to Billy Magee's gay knock, a man of
about sixty years appeared. Evidently he had just;
finished supper ; at the moment he was engaged in
lighting his pipe. He admitted Mr. Magee into
the intimacy of the kitchen, and took a number of
calm judicious puffs on the pipe before speaking
to his visitor. In that interval the visitor cheerily
seized his hand, oblivious of the warm burnt
match that was in it. The match fell to the floor,
whereupon the older man cast an anxious glance
at a gray-haired woman who stood beside the
"My name's Magee," blithely explained that
gentleman, dragging in his bags. "And you're
Elijah Quimby, of course. How are you? Glad
to see you." His air was that of one who had
known this Quimby intimately, in many odd cor-
ners of the world.
The older man did not reply, but regarded Mr.
Magee wonderingly through white puffs of smoke.
His face was kindly, gentle, ineffectual; he
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 15
seemed to lack the final "punch" that send men
over the line to success; this was evident in the
way his necktie hung, the way his thin hands flut-
*'Yes," he admitted at last "Yes, I'm Quimby."
Mr. Magee threw back his coat, and sprayed
with snow Mrs. Quimby's immaculate floor.
"Fm Magee," he elucidated again, "William
Hallowell Magee, the man Hal Bentley wrote to
you about. You got his letter, didn't you?"
Mr. Quimby removed his pipe and forgot to
close the aperture as he stared in amazement.
"Good lord!" he cried, "you don't mean —
you've really come."
"What better proof could you ask," said Mr.
Magee flippantly, "than my presence here?"
"Why," stammered Mr. Quimby, "we — we
thought it was all a joke."
"Hal Bentley has his humorous moments,"
agreed Mr. Magee, "but it isn't his habit to fling
his jests into Upper Asquewan Falls."
"And — and you're really going to — " Mr.
Quimby could get no further.
i6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Yes," said Mr. Magee brightly, slipping into a
rocking-chair. "Yes, I'm going to spend the next
few months at Baldpate Inn."
Mrs. Ouimby, who seemed to have settled into
a stout little mound of a woman through standing
too long in the warm presence of her stove, came
forward and inspected Mr. Magee.
"Of all things," she murmured.
"It's closed," expostulated Mr. Quimby; "the
inn is closed, young fellow."
"I know it's closed," smiled Magee. "That's
the very reason I'm going to honor it with my
presence. I'm sorry to take you out on a night
like this, but I'll have to ask you to lead me up to
Baldpate. I believe those were Hal Bentley's in-
structions — in the letter."
Mr. Ouimby towered above Mr. Magee, a shirt-
sleeved statue of honest American manhood. He
"Excuse a plain question, young man," he said,
"but what are you hiding from?"
Mrs. Ouimby, in the neighborhood of the stove,
paused to hear the reply. Billy Magee laughed.
"I'm not hiding," he said. "Didn't Bentley ex-
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 17
plain ? Well, I'll try to, though I'm not sure you'll
understand. Sit down, Mr. Quimby. You are
not, I take it, the sort of man to follow closely the
light and frivolous literature of the day."
"What's that?'' inquired Mr. Quimby.
"You don't read," continued Mr. Magee, "the
sort of novels that are sold by the pound in the de-
partment stores. Now, if you had a daughter — a
fluffy daughter inseparable from a hammock in
the summer — she could help me explain. You see
— I write those novels. Wild thrilling tales for
the tired business man's tired wife — shots in the
night, chases after fortunes, Cupid busy with his
arrows all over the place! It's good fun, and I
like to do it. There's money in it."
"Is there?" asked Mr. Quimby with a show of
"Considerable," replied Mr. Magee. "But now
and then I get a longing to do something that will
make the critics sit up — ^the real thing, you know.
The other day I picked up a newspaper and found
my latest brain-child advertised as 'the best fall
novel Magee ever wrote'. It got on my nerves —
I felt like a literary dressmaker, and I could see
i8 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
my public laying down my fall novel and sighing
for my early spring styles in fiction. I remem-
bered that once upon a time a critic advised me to
go away for ten years to some quiet spot, and
think. I decided to do it. Baldpate Inn is the
"You don't mean," gasped Mr. Quimby, "that
you're going to stay there ten years ?"
"Bless you, no," said Mr. Magee. "Critics ex-
aggerate. Two months will do. They say I am a
cheap melodramatic ranter. They say I don't go
deep. They say my thinking process is a scream.
I'm afraid they're right Now, I'm going to go
up to Baldpate Inn, and think. I'm going to get
away from melodrama. I'm going to do a novel
so fine and literary that Henry Cabot Lodge will
come to me with tears in his eyes and ask me to
join his bunch of self-made Immortals. I'm go-
ing to do all this up there at the inn — sitting on the
mountain and looking down on this little old
world as Jove looked down from Olympus."
"I don't know who you mean," objected Mr.
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY.^ 19
"He was a god — the god of the fruit-stand
men," explained Magee. "Picture me, if you can,
depressed by the overwhelming success of my
^latest brain-child. Picture me meeting Hal Bent-
ley in a Forty- fourth Street club and asking him
for the location of the lonesomest spot on earth.
Hal thought a minute. 'IVe got it', he said, 'the
lonesomest spot that's happened to date is a sum-
mer resort in mid-winter. It makes Crusoe's island
look like Coney on a warm Sunday afternoon in
comparison.' The talk flowed on, along with other
things. Hal told me his father owned Baldpate
Inn, and that you were an old friend of his who
would be happy for the entire winter over the
chance tp serve him. He happened to have a key
to the place — the key to the big front door, T
guess, from the weight of it — and he gave it to
me. He also wrote you to look after me. So
here I am."
,' Mr. Quimby ran his fingers through his white
"Here I am," repeated Billy Magee, "fleeing
from the great glitter known as Broadway to do a
20 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
little rational thinking in the solitudes. It's get-
ting late, and I suggest that we start for Baldpate
Inn at once."
"This ain't exactly — regular,'* Mr. Quimby pro-
tested. *'No, it ain't what you might call a fre-
quent occurrence. I'm glad to do anything I can
for young Mr. Bentley, but I can't help wondering
what his father will say. And there's a lot of
things you haven't took into consideration."
"There certainly is, young man," remarked
Mrs. Quimby, bustling forward. "How are you
going to keep warm in that big barn of a place?"
"The suites on the second floor," said Mr. Ma-
gee, "are, I hear, equipped with fireplaces. Mr.
Quimby will keep me supplied with fuel from the
forest primeval, for which service he will receive
twenty dollars a week."
"And light?" asked Mrs. Quimby.
"For the present, candles. I have forty in that
package. Later, perhaps you can find me an oil
lamp. Oh, everything will be provided for."
"Well," remarked Mr. Quimby, looking in a
dazed fashion at his wife, "I reckon I'll have to
talk it over with ma."
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 21
The two retired to the next room, and Mr. Ma-
gee fixed his eyes on a "God Bless Our Home"
motto while he awaited their return. Presently
"Was you thinking of eating?" inquired Mrs.
Quimby sarcastically, "while you stayed up
"I certainly was," smiled Mr. Magee. "For the
most part I will prepare my own meals from cans
and — er — jars — and such pagan sources. But
now and then you, Mrs. Quimby, are going to
send me something cooked as no other woman in
the county can cook it. I can see it in your eyes.
In my poor way I shall try to repay you."
He continued to smile into Mrs. Quimby^s
broad cheerful face. Mr. Magee had the type pf
smile that moves men to part with ten until Satur-
day, and women to close their eyes and dream of
Sir Launcelot. Mrs. Quimby could not long re-
osist. She smiled back. Whereupon Billy Magee
sprang to his feet.
"It's all fixed," he cried. "We'll get on splen-
didly. And now — for Baldpate Inn."
'Not just yet," said Mrs. Quimby. "I ain't one
22 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
to let anybody go up to Baldpate Inn unfed. I
'spose we're sort o' responsible for you, while
you're up here. You just set right down and I'll
have your supper hot and smoking on the table in
Mr. Magee entered into no dispute on this point,
and for half an hour he was the pleased recipient
of advice, philosophy, and food. When he had
assured Mrs. Quimby that he had eaten enough to
last him the entire two months he intended spend-
ing at the inn, Mr. Quimby came in, attired in a
huge "before the war" ulster, and carrying a
"So you're going to sit up there and write
things," he commented. "Well, I reckon you'll
be left to yourself, all right."
"I hope so," responded Mr. Magee. "I want to
be so lonesome I'll sob myself to sleep every night.
It's the only road to immortality. Good-by, Mrs.
Quimby. In my fortress on the mountain I shall
expect an occasional culinary message from you."
He took her plump hand; this motherly little
woman seemed the last link binding him to the
world of reality.
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY 22,
"Good-by," smiled Mrs. Quimby. "Be careful
\ Mr. Quimby led the way with the lantern, and
presently they stepped out upon the road. The
storm had ceased, but it was still very dark. Far
below, in the valley, twinkled the lights of Upper
"By the way, Quimby," remarked Mr. Magee,
^'is there a girl in your town who has blue eyes,
light hair, and the general air of a queen out
"Light hair," repeated Quimby. "There's Sally
Perry. She teaches in the Methodist Sunday-
"No," said Mr. Magee. "My description was
poor, I'm afraid. This one I refer to, when she
weeps, gives the general effect of mist pn the sea
at dawn. The Methodists do not monopolize her."
"I read books, and I read newspapers," said
|Mr. Quimby, "but a lot of your talk I don't under-
"The critics," replied Billy Magee, "could ex-
plain. My stuff is only for low-brows. Lead on,
24 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Mr. Quimby stood for a moment In dazed
silence. Then he turned, and the yellow of his
lantern fell on the dazzling snow ahead. Together
the two climbed Baldpate Mountain.
ENTER A LOVELORN HABERDASHEft
BALDPATE INN did not stand tiptoe on the
misty mountain-top. Instead it clung with
grim determination to the side of Baldpate, about
half-way up, much as a city man clings to the run-
ning board of an open street-car. This was the
comparison Mr. Magee made, and even as he
made it he knew that atmospheric conditions ren-
dered it questionable. For an open street-car sug-
gests summer and the ball park ; Baldpate Inn, as
it shouldered darkly into Mr. Magee's ken, sug-
gested winter at its most wintry.
) About the great black shape fhat was the inn,
like arms, stretched broad verandas. Mr. Magee
remarked upon them to his companion.
"Those porches and balconies and things," he
said, "will come in handy in cooling the fevered
brow of genius."
"There ain't much fever in this locality," the
'26 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
practical Quimby assured him, "especially not in
Silenced, Mr. Magee followed the lantern of
Quimby over the snow to the broad steps, and up
to the great front door. There Magee produced
from beneath his coat an impressive key. Mr.
Quimby made as though to assist, but was waved
"This is a ceremony," Mr. Magee told him,
"some day Sunday newspaper stories will be writ-
ten about it. Baldpate Inn opening its doors to
the great American novel !"
He placed the key in the lock, turned it, and the
door swung open. The coldest blast of air Mr.
Magee had even encountered swept out from the
dark interior. He shuddered, and wrapped his
coat closer. He seemed to see the white trail from
Dawson City, the sled dogs straggling on with the
dwindling provisions, the fat Eskimo guide beg-
ging for gum-drops by his side.
"Whew," he cried, "we've discovered another
"It's stale air," remarked Quimby.
You mean the Polar atmosphere," replied Ma-
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 27
gee. "Yes, it is pretty stale. Jack London and
Doctor Cook have worked it to death."
"I mean/' said Quimby, "this air has been in
here alone too long. It's as stale as last week's
newspaper. We couldn't heat it with a million
fires. We'll have to let in some warm air from
"Warm air — humph," remarked Mr. Magee.
"Well, live and learn."
The two stood together in a great bare room.
The rugs had been removed, and such furniture as
remained had huddled together, as if for warmth,
in the center of the floor. When they stepped for-
ward, the sound of their shoes on the hard wood
seemed the boom that should wake the dead.
"This is the hotel ofKice," explained Mr,
At the left of the door was the clerk's desk; be-
hind it loomed a great safe, and a series of pigeon-
holes for the mail of the guests. Opposite the
front door a wide stairway led to a landing half-
way up, where the stairs were divorced and went
to the right and left in search of the floor above.
Mr. Magee surveyed the stairway critically.
28 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"A great place/' he remarked, "to show off the
talents of your dressmaker, eh, Quimby? Can't
you just see the stunning gowns coming down that
stair in state, and the young men below here agi-
tated in their bosoms?"
'No, I can't," said Mr. Quimby frankly.
'I can't either, to tell the truth," laughed Billy
Magee. He turned up his collar. "It's like pic-
turing a summer girl sitting on an iceberg and
swinging her open-work hosiery over the edge. I
don't suppose it's necessary to register. I'll go
right up and select my apartments."
It was upon a suite of rooms that bore the num-
ber seven pn their door that Mr. Magee's choice
fell. A large parlor with a fireplace that a few
blazing logs would cheer, a bedroom whose bed
was destitute of all save mattress and springs, and
a bathroom, comprised his kingdom. Here, too, all
the furniture was piled in the center of the rooms.
After Quimby had opened the windows, he began
straightening the furniture about.
Mr. Magee inspected his apartment. The win-
dows were all of the low French variety, and op-
ened out upon a broad snow-covered balcony
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 29
which was in reality the roof of the first floor
veranda. On this balcony Magee stood a mo-
ment, watching the trees on Baldpate wave their
black arms in the wind, and the lights of Upper
Asquewan Falls wink knowingly up at him. Then
he came inside, and his investigations brought him
presently to the tub in the bathroom.
"Fine," he cried, "a cold plunge in the morning
before the daily struggle for immortality begins."
He turned the spigot. Nothing happened.
"I reckon," drawled Mr. Ouimby from the bed-
room, "you'll carry your cold plunge up from
the well back of the inn before you plunge into it.
The water's turned off. We can't take chances
with busted pipes."
"Of course," replied Magee less blithely. His
ardor was somewhat dampened — a paradox — by
the failure of the spigot to gush forth a response.
"There's nothing I'd enjoy more than carrying
eight pails of water up-stairs every morning to get
up an appetite for — what ? Oh, well, the Lord will
provide. H we propose to heat up the great
American outdoors, Quimby, I think it's time we
had a fire.'*
30 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Mr. Quimby went out without comment, and
left Magee to light his first candle in the dark.
For a time he occupied himself with lighting a few
^of the forty, and distributing them about the
room. Soon Quimby came back with kindling
and logs, and subsequently a noisy fire roared in
the grate. Again Quimby retired, and returned
with a generous armful of bedding, which he
threw upon the brass bed in the inner room. Then
he slowly closed and locked the windows, after
which he came and looked down with good-
natured contempt at Mr. Magee, who sat in a
chair before the fire.
"I wouldn't wander round none," he advised.
"You might fall down something — or something.
I been living in these parts, off and on, for sixty
lyears and more, and nothing like this ever came
under my observation before. Howsomever, I
guess it's all right if Mr. Bentley says so. Til
come up in the morning and see you down to the
'*What train?" inquired Mr. Magee.
"Your train back to New York City," replied
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 31
Mr. Quimby. "Don't try to start back in the
night. There ain't no train till morning."
"Ah, Quimby," laughed Mr. Magee, "you taunt
me. You think I won't stick it out. But I'll show
jrou. I tell you, I'm hungry for solitude."
"That's all right," Mr. Quimby responded,
"you can't make three square meals a day off soli-
"I'm desperate," said Magee. "Henry Cabot
Lodge must come to me, I say, with tears in his
eyes. Ever see the senator that way? No? It
isn't going to be an easy job. I must put it over.
I must go deep into the hearts of men, up here,
and write what I find. No more shots in the night.
Just the adventure of soul and soul. Do you see ?
By the way, here's twenty dollars, your first
week's pay as caretaker of a New Yprk Quixote."
"What's that?" asked Quimby.
'^Quixote," explained Mr. Magee, "was a Span-
ish lad who was a little confused in his mind, and
went about the country putting up at summer re-
sorts in mid-winter."
"I'd expect it of a Spaniard," Quimby said.
Be careful of that fire. I'll be up in the fnom-
32 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
ing." He stowed away the bill Mr. Magee had
given him. *'l guess nothing will interfere with
your lonesomeness. Leastways, I hope it won't.
^ Good night."
Mr. Magee bade the man good night, and lis-
tened to the thump of his boots, and the closing of
the great front door. From his windows he
watched the caretaker move down the road with-
out looking back, to disappear at last in the white
Throwing off his great coat, Mr. Magee noisily
attacked the fire. The blaze flared red on his
strong humorous mouth, in his smiling eyes.
Next, in the flickering half-light of suite seven, he
distributed the contents of his traveling-bags
about On the table he placed a number of new
magazines and a few books.
Then Mr. Magee sat dow^n in the big leather
chair before the fire, and caught his breath. Here
he was at last. The wild plan he and Hal Bentley
had cooked up in that Forty- fourth Street club
had actually come to be. ^'Seclusion/' Magee had
cried. "Bermuda," Bentley had suggested. "A
mixture of sea, hotel clerks, and honeymooners !"
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 35
the seeker for solitude had sneered. "Some win-
ter place down South," — from Bentley. "And a
flirtation lurking in every corner !" — from Magee.
* "A country town where you don't know any one."
"The easiest place in the world to get acquainted.
I must be alone, man ! Alone !" "Baldpate Inn,"
Bentley had cried in his idiom. "Why, Billy —
Baldpate Inn at Christmas — it must be old John
H. Seclusion himself."
Yes, here he was. And here was the solitude
he had come to find. Mr. Magee looked nervously
about, and the smile died out of his gray eyes.
For the first time misgivings smote him. Might
one not have too much of a good thing? A silence
like that of the tomb had descended. He recalled
stories of men who went mad from loneliness.
What place lonelier than this ? The wind howled
along the balcony. It rattled the windows. Out-
side his door lay a great black cave — in summer
gay with men and maids — now like Crusoe's is-
land before the old man landed.
"Alone, alone, all, all alone," quoted Mr. Ma-
gee. "If I can't think here it will be because I'm
not equipped with the apparatus. I will. I'll show
34 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
the gloomy pld critics ! I wonder what's doing in
New York ?"
New York! Mr. Magee looked at his watch.
Eight o'clock. The great street was ablaze. The
crowds were parading from the restaurants to the
theaters. The electric signs were pasting lurid
legends on a long suffering sky; the taxis were
spraying throats with gasoline; the traffic cop at
Broadway and Forty-second Street was madly
earning his pay. Mr. Magee got up and walked
the floor. New York !
Probably the telephone in his rooms was jang-
ling, vainly calling forth to sport with Amaryllis
in the shade of the rubber trees Billy Magee —
Billy Magee who sat alone in the silence on Bald-
pate Mountain. Few knew of his departure. This
was the night of that stupid attempt at theatricals
at the Plaza ; stupid in itself but gay, almost giddy,
since Helen Faulkner was to be there. This was
the night of the dinner to Carey at the club. This
was the night — of many diverting things.
Mr. Magee picked up a magazine. He won-
dered how they read, in the old days, by candle-
light. He wondered if they would have found his
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 35
t&wn stories worth the strain on the eyes. And he
also wondered if absolute solitude was quite the
thing necessary to the composition of the novel
that should forever silence those who sneered af
Absolute solitude ! Only the crackle of the fivQ^
the roar of the wind, and the ticking of his watcK
bore him company. He strode to the window and
looked down at the few dim lights that proclaimed
the existence of Upper Asquewan Falls. Some-
where, down there, was the Commercial House.
Somewhere the girl who had wept so bitterly in
that gloomy little waiting-room. She was only
three miles away, and the thought cheered Mr.
Magee. After all, he was not on a desert island.
And yet — he was alone, intensely, almost pain-
fully, alone. Alone in a vast moaning house that
must be his only home until he could go back to
the gay city with his masterpiece. What a mas-
terpiece! As though with a surgeon's knife it
would lay bare the hearts of men. No tricks of
plot, no —
Mr. Magee paused. For sharply in the silence
the bell of his room telephone rang out.
36 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
He stood for a moment gazing in wonder, his
heart beating swiftly, his eyes upon the instru-
ment on the wall. It was a house phone ; he knew
that it could only be rung from the switchboard,
in the hall below. "I'm going mad already," he
remarked, and took down the receiver.
A blur of talk, an electric muttering, a click,
and all was still.
Mr. Magee opened the door and stepped out
into the shadov/s. He heard a voice below.
Noiselessly he crept to the landing, and gazed
down into the office. A young man sat at the tele-
phone switchboard; Mr. Magee could see in the
dim light of a solitary candle that he was a person
pi rather hilarious raiment. The candle stood on
the top of the safe, and the door of the latter
swung open. Sinking down on the steps in the
dark, Mr. Magee waited.
"Hello," the young man was saying, "how do
you work this thing, anyhow? I've tried every
peg but the right one. Hello — hello ! I want long
distance — Reuton. 2876 West — Mr. Andy Rut-
ter. Will you get him for me, sister?"
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 37
Another wait — a long one — ensued. The can-
dle sputtered. The young man fidgeted in his
chair. At last he spoke again :
"Hello! Andy? Is that you, Andy? What's
the good word? As quiet as the tomb of Napo-
leon. Shall I close up shop ? Sure. What next ?
Oh, see here, Andy, Ld die up here. Did you ever
hit a place like this in winter? I can't — I — oh,
well, if he says so. Yes. I could do that. But
no longer. I couldn't stand it long. Tell him that.
Tell him everything's O. K. Yes. AD right
Well, good night, Andy."
He turned away from the switchboard, and as
he did so Mr. Magee walked calmly down the
stairs toward him. With a cry the young man
ran to the safe, threw a package inside, and swung
shut the door. He turned the knob of the safe
several times ; then he faced Mr. Magee. The lat-
ter saw something glitter in his hand.
\ "Good evening," remarked Mr. Magee pleas-
"What are you doing here?" cried the youth
"I live here," Mr. Magee assured him. "Won't
38 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
you come up to my room — it's right at the head
of the stairs. I have a fire, you know."
Back into the young man's lean hawk-Hke face
(crept the assurance that belonged with the gay at-
tire he wore. He dropped the revolver into his
i pocket, and smiled a sneering smile.
"You gave me a turn," he said. "Of course you
live here. Are any of the other guests about?
And who won the tennis match to-day ?"
"You are facetious." Mr. Magee smiled too.
"So much the better. A lively companion is the
very sort I should have ordered to-night. Come
The young man looked suspiciously about, his
thin nose seemingly scenting plots. He nodded,
and picked up the candle. "All right," he said.
"But I'll have to ask you to go first. You know
the way." His right hand sought the pocket into
which the revolver had fallen.
"You honor my poor and drafty house," said;
*Mr. Magee. "This way."
He mounted the stairs. After him followed the
youth of flashy habiliments, looking fearfully
about him as he went. He seemed surprised that
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 39
tHey came to Magee's room without incident. In-
side, Mr. Magee drew up an easy chair before the
fire, and offered his guest a cigar.
"You must be cold," he said. "Sit here. 'A.
bad night, stranger' as they remark in stories."
"You've said it," replied the young man, accept-
ing the cigar. "Thanks." He walked to the door
leading into the hall and opened it about a foot.
"I'm afraid," he explained jocosely, "we'll get to
talking, and miss the breakfast bell." He dropped
into the chair, and lighted his cigar at a candle
end. "Say, you never can tell, can you? Climb-
ing up old Baldpate I thought to myself, that hotel
certainly makes the Sahara Desert look like a cozy
corner. And here you are, as snug and comfort-
able and at home as if you were in a Harlem flat.
You never can tell. And what now ? The story
of my life?"
"You might relate," Mr. Magee told him, "that
portion of it that has led you trespassing on a gen-
tleman seeking seclusion at Baldpate Inn."
The stranger looked at Mr. Magee. He had an
eye that not only looked, but weighed, estimated,
and classified. Mr. Magee met it smilingly.
40 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Trespassing, eh?" said the young man. "Far
be it from me to quarrel with a man who smokes
as good cigars as you do — ^but there's something
I haven't quite doped out. That is — who's tres-
passing, me or you ?"
"My right here," said Mr. Alagee, "is indispu-
"It's a big word," rephed the other, "but you
can tack it to my right here, and tell no lie. We
can't dispute, so let's drop the matter. With that
settled, I'm encouraged to pour out the story of
why you see me here to-night, far from the mad-
ding crowd. Have you a stray tear? You'll
need it. It's a sad touching story, concerned with
haberdashery and a trusting heart, and a fair
woman — fair, but, oh, how false!"
"Proceed," laughed Mr. Magee. "I'm an ad-
rnirer of the vivid imagination. Don't curb yours,
I beg of you."
"It's all straight," said the other in a hurt tone.
"Every word true. My name is Joseph Bland.
My profession, until love entered my life, was that
of haberdasher and outfitter. In the city of Reu-
ton, fifty miles from here, I taught the Beau
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 41
Brummels of the thoroughfares what was doing in
London in the necktie line. I sold them coats with
padded shoulders, and collars high and awe inspir-
ing. I was happy, twisting a piece of silk over my
hand to show them how it would look on their
heaving bosoms. And then — she came.'*
Mr. Bland puffed on his cigar.
"Yes," he said, "Arabella sparkled on the hori-
zon of my life. When I have been here in the quiet
for about two centuries, maybe I can do justice to
her beauty. I won't attempt to describe her now.
I loved her — madly. She said I made a hit with
her. I spent on her the profits of my haberdash-
ery. I whispered — marriage. She didn't scream.
I had my wedding necktie picked out from the
samples of a drummer from Troy." He paused
and looked at Mr. Magee. *^Have you ever stood,
poised, on that brink?" he asked.
"Never," replied Magee. "But go on. Your
story attracts me, strangely." I
"From here on — the tear I spoke of, please.
There flashed on the scene a man she had known
and loved in Jersey City. I said flashed. He did
— Just that. A swell dresser — say, he had John^
42 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE w
Drew beat by two mauve neckties and a purple
frock coat. I had a haberdashery back of me.
No use. He put-dressed me. I saw that Arabel-
la's love for me was waning. With his chamois-
gloved hands that new guy fanned the ancient
He paused. Emotion — or the smoke of the
cigar — choked him.
''Let's make the short story shorter," he said.
"She threw me down. In my haberdashery I
thought it over. I was blue, bitter. I resolved
on a dreadful step. In the night I wrote her a
letter, and carried it down to the box and posted
it. Life without Arabella, said the letter, was
Shakespeare with Hamlet left out. It hinted at
the river, carbolic acid, revolvers. Yes, I posted
it. And then — "
"And then," urged Mr. Magee.
Mr. Bland felt tenderly of the horseshoe pin in
his purple tie.
"This is just between us," he said. "At that
point the trouble began. It came from my being
naturally a very brave man. I could have died —
easy. The brave thing was to live. To go on, day
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 4;^
after day, devoid of Arabella — say, that took
courage. I wanted to try it. I'm a courageous
man, as I say."
"You seem so," Mr. Magee agreed.
"Lion-hearted," assented Mr. Bland. "I deter-
mined to show my nerve, and live. But there was
my letter to Arabella. I feared she wouldn't ap-
preciate my bravery — women are dull sometimes.
It came to me maybe she would be hurt if I didn't
Iceep my word, and die. So I had to — disappear.
I had a friend mixed up in affairs at Baldpate.
No, I can't give his name. I told him my story.
He was impressed by my spirit, as you have been.
He gave me a key he had — the key of the door
opening from the east veranda into the dining-
room. So I came up here. I came here to be
alone, to forgive and forget, to be forgot. And
maybe to plan a new haberdashery in distant
"Was it your wedding necktie," asked Mr. Ma-
gee, "that you threw into the safe when you saw
"No," replied Mr. Bland, sighing deeply. "A
package of letters, written to me by Arabella at
^44 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
various times. I want to forget 'em. If I kept
them on hand, I might look at them from time to
time. My great courage might give way — you
'might find my body on the stairs. That's why I
Mr. Magee laughed, and stretched forth his
"Believe me,'' he said, "your touching confi-
dence in me will not be betrayed. I congratulate
you on your narrative power. You want my
story. Why am I here? I am not sure that it is
worthy to follow yours. But it has its good
points — as I have thought it out."
He went over to the table, and picked up a pop-
ular novel upon which his gaze had rested while
the haberdasher spun his fabric of love and gloom.
On the cover was a picture of a very dashing
"Do you see that girl?" he asked. "She is
ibeautif ul, is she not ? Even Arabella, in her most
splendid moments, could get a few points from
her, I fancy. Perhaps you are not familiar with
the important part such a picture plays in the suc-
cess of a novel to-day. The truth is, however,
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 45
that the noble art of fiction writing has come to
lean more and more heavily on its illustrators.
The mere words that go with the pictures grow
less important every day. There are dozens ofj
distinguished novelists in the country at this mo-
ment who might be haberdashers if it weren't for
the long, lean, haughty ladies who are scattered
tastefully through their works.''
Mr. Bland stirred uneasily.
"I can see you are at a loss to know what my
search for seclusion and privacy has to do with
all this," continued Mr. Magee. *T am an artist.
For years I have drawn these lovely ladies who
make fiction salable to the masses. Many a nov-
elist owes his motor-car and his country house to
my brush. Two months ago, I determined to give
up illustration forever, and devote my time to
painting. I turned my back on the novelists. Can
you imagine what happened ?"
"My imagination's a little tired," apologized
"Never mind. I'll tell you. The leading au-
thors whose work I had so long illustrated saw
ruin staring them in the face. They came to me.
45 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
on their knees, figuratively. They begged. They
pleaded. They hid in the vestibule of my flat. I
should say, my studio. They even came up in my
dumb-waiter, having bribed the janitor. They
vi^ouldn't take no for an answer. In order to es-
cape them and their really pitiful pleadings, I had
to flee. I happened to have a friend involved in
the management of Baldpate Inn. I am not at
liberty to give his name. He gave me a key. So
here I am. I rely on you to keep my secret. If
you perceive a novelist in the distance, lose no
time in warning me."
Mr. Magee paused, chuckling inwardly. He
stood looking down at the lovelorn haberdasher.
The latter got to his feet, and solemnly took Ma-
"I — I — oh, well, you've got me beat a mile, old
man,'* he said.
"You don't mean to say — " began the hurt Ma-
"Oh, that's all right," Mr. Bland assured him.
"I believe every word of it. It's all as real as the
haberdashery to me. I'll keep my eye peeled for
novelists. What gets me is, when you boil our
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 4/
two fly-by-night stories down, I've come here to
be alone. You want to be alone. We can't be
alone here together. One of us must clear out."
''Nonsense," answered Billy Magee. "I'll be
glad to have you here. Stay as long as you like."
The haberdasher looked Mr. Magee fully in the
eye, and the latter was startled by the hostility he
saw in the other's face.
"The point is," said Mr. Bland, "I don't want
you here. Why ? Maybe because you recall beau-
tiful dames — on book covers — and in that way,
Arabella. Maybe — ^but what's the use? I put it
simply. I got to be alone — alone on Baldpate
Mountain. I won't put you out to-night — "
"See here, my friend," cried Mr. Magee, "your
grief has turned your head. You won't put me
out to-night, or to-morrow. I'm here to stay.
You're welcome to do the same, if you like. But
you stay — ^with me. I know you are a man of
courage — but it would take at least ten men of
courage to put me out of Baldpate Inn."
They stood eying each other for a moment
Bland's thin lips twisted into a sneer. "We'll
see," he said. "We'll settle all that in the mom-
48 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
ing." His tone took on a more friendly aspect.
"I'm going to pick out a downy couch in one of
these rooms," he said, "and lay me down to sleep.
•Say, I could greet a blanket like a long-lost
Mr. Magee proffered some of the covers that
Quimby had given him, and accompanied Mr.
Bland to suite ten, across the hall. He explained
the matter of "stale air", and assisted in the open-
ing of windows. The conversation was mostly
facetious, and Mr. Bland's last remark concerned
the fickleness of woman. With a brisk good night,
Mr. Magee returned to number seven.
But he made no move toward the chilly brass
bed in the inner room. Instead he sat a long time
by the fire. He reflected on the events of his first
few hours in that supposedly uninhabited solitude
where he was to be alone with his thoughts. He
pondered the way and manner of the flippant
young man who posed as a lovelorn haber-
dasher, and under whose flippancy there was cer-
tainly an air of hostility. Who was Andy Rutter,
down in Reuton ? \Vhat did the young man mean
when he asked if he should "close up shop"?
A LOVELORN HABERDASHER 49
Who was the "he'* from whom came the orders ?
and most important of all, what was in the pack-
age now resting in the great safe?
Mr. Magee smiled. Was this the stuff of which
solitude was made ? He recalled the ludicrous lit-
erary tale he had invented to balance the moving
fiction of Arabella, and his smile grew broader.
His imagination, at least, was in a healthy state.
He looked at his watch. A quarter of twelve.
Probably they were having supper at the Plaza
now, and Helen Faulkner was listening to the
banalities of young Williams. He settled in his
seat to think of Miss Faulkner. He thought of
her for ten seconds ; then stepped to the window.
The moon had risen, and the snowy roofs of
Upper Asquewan Falls sparkled in the lime-light
of the heavens. Under one of those roofs was the
girl of the station — ^weeping no more, he hoped.
Certainly she had eyes that held even the least sus-
ceptible — to which class Mr. Magee prided him-
self he belonged. He wished he might see her
again; might talk to her without interruption
from that impossible "mamma."
Mr. Magee turned back into the room. His
50 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
fire was but red glowing ashes. He threw off his
dressing-gown, and began to unlace his shoes.
"There has been too much crude melodrama in
my novels," he reflected. "It's so easy to write.
But I'm going to get away from all that up here.
I'm going — "
Mr. Magee paused, with one shoe poised in his
hand. For from below came the sharp crack of a
pistol, followed by the crash of breaking glass.
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES
MR. MAGEE slipped into his dressing-
gown, seized a candle, and like the bo}r
in the nursery rhyme with one shoe off and pne
shoe on, ran into the hall. All was silent and dark
below. He descended to the landing, and stood
there, holding the candle high above his head. It
threw a dim light as far as the bottom of the
stairs, but quickly lost the battle with the shadows
that lay beyond.
"Hello," the voice of Bland, the haberdasher,
came put of the blackness. "The Goddess of Lib-
erty, as I live ! What's your next imitation ?*'
"There seems to be something doing,'' said Mr.
Mr. Bland came into the light, partially dis-
robed, his revolver in his hand.
"Somebody trying to get in by the front door/'
'52 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
he explained. "I shot at him to scare him away.
Probably one of your novelists."
*'0r Arabella," remarked Mr. Magee, coming
"No," answered Bland. *T distinctly saw a
With Mr. Magee descended the yellow candle-
light, and brushing aside the shadows of the hotel
office, it revealed a mattress lying on the floor
close to the clerk's desk, behind which stood the
safe. On the mattress was the bedding Magee
had presented to the haberdasher, hastily thrown
back by the lovelorn one on rising.
"You prefer to sleep down here/' Mr. Magee
"Near the letters of Arabella — yes," replied
Bland. His keen eyes met Magee's. There was
a challenge in them.
Mr. Magee turned, and the yellow light of the
candle flickered wanly over the great front door.
Even as he looked at it, the door was pushed open,
and a queer figure of a man stood framed against
a background of glittering snow. Mr. Bland's
arm flew up.
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES 5I
"Don't shoot," cried Magee.
"No, please don't," urged the man in the door-
way. A beard, a pair of round owHsh spectacles,
and two ridiculous ear-muffs, left only a sugges-
tion of face here and there. He closed the door
and stepped into the room. "I have every right
here, I assure you, even though my arrival is
somewhat unconventional. See — I have the key.^*
He held up a large brass key that was the coun-
terpart of the one Hal Bentley had bestowed upon
Mr. Magee in that club on far-off Forty-fourth
'Keys to burn," muttered Mr. Bland sourly.
1 bear no ill will with regard to the shooting,"
went on the newcomer. He took off his derby hat
and ruefully regarded a hole through the crown.
His bald head seemed singularly frank and naked
above a face of so many disguises. *Tt is only nat-
ural that men alone on a mountain should defend
themselves from invaders at two in the morning.
My escape was narrow, but there is no ill will."
He blinked about him, his breath a white cloud
in the cold room.
"Life, young gentlemen," he remarked, setting
54 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
down his bag and leaning a green umbrella against
it, "has its surprises even at sixty-two. Last night
I was ensconced by my own library fire, preparing
a paper on the Pagan Renaissance. To-night I
am on Baldpate Mountain, with a perforation in
Mr. Bland shivered. "I'm going back to bed,"
he said in disgust.
"First," went on the gentleman with the per-
forated derby, "permit me to introduce myself. I
am Professor Thaddeus Bolton, and I hold the
Chair of Comparative Literature in a big eastern
Mr. Magee took the mlttened hand of the pro-
"Glad to see you, I'm sure," he said. "My
name is Magee. This Is Mr. Bland — he is Impet-
uous but estimable. I trust you will forgive his
first salute. What's a bullet among gentlemen?
It seems to me that as explanations may be
lengthy and this room is very cold, we would do
well to go up to my room, where there is a fire."
"Delighted," cried the old man. "A fire. I
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES 55
long to see one. Let us go to your room, by all
Mr. Bland sulkily stalked to his mattress and
secured a gaily colored bed quilt, which he wound
about his thin form.
"This is positively the last experience meeting
I attend to-night," he growled.
They ascended to number seven. Mr. Magee
piled fresh logs on the fire; Mr. Bland saw to it
that the door was not tightly closed. The pro-
fessor removed, along with other impedimenta,
his ear tabs, which were connected by a rubber
cord. He waved them like frisky detached ears
"An old man's weakness," he remarked. "Fool-
ish, they may seem to you. But I assure you I
found them useful companions in climbing Bald-
pate Mountain at this hour."
He sat down in the largest chair suite seven
owned, and from its depths smiled benignly at the
two young men.
"But I am not here to apologize for my apparel,
am I? Hardly. You are saying to yourselves
56 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
'Why is he here ?' Yes, that is the question that
disturbs you. What has brought this domesti-
cated college professor scampering from the Pa-
gan Renaissance to Baldpate Inn ? For answer, I
must ask you to go back with me a week's time,
and gaze at a picture from the rather dreary aca-
demic kaleidoscope that is my life.
"I am seated back of a desk on a platform in a
bare yellow room. In front of me, tier on tier,
sit a hundred young men in various attitudes pf
inattention. I am trying to tell them something
of the ideal poetry that marked the rebirth of the
Saxon genius. They are bored. I — well, gentle-
men, in confidence, even the mind of a college pro-
fessor has been known to wander at times from
the subject in hand. And then — I begin to read a
poem — a poem descriptive of a woman dead six
hundred years and more. Ah, gentlemen — "
He sat erect on the edge of his great chair.
Back of the thick lenses of his spectacles he had
eyes that still could flash.
"This is not an era of romance," he said. "Our
people grub in the dirt for the dollar. Their vis-
ions perish. Their souls grow stale. Yet, now
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES 57
and then, at most inopportune times, comes the
flash that reveals to us the glories that might be.
A gentleman of my acquaintance caught a glimpse
of perfect happiness while he was in the midst of
an effort to corner the pickle market. Another
evolved the scheme of a perfect ode to the essen-
tial purity of woman in — a Broadway restaurant.
So, like lightning across the blackest sky, our
poetic moments come."
Mr. Bland wrapped his gay quilt more securely
about him. Mr. Magee smiled encouragement on
the new^est raconteur.
*T shall be brief," continued Professor Bolton.
"Heaven knows that pedagogic room was no place
for visions, nor were those athletic young men fit
companions for a soul gone giddy. Yet — I lost
my head. As I read on there returned to my heart
a glow I had not known in forty years. The bard
spoke of her hair :
Her yellow lockes, crisped like golden wyre.
About her shoulders weren loosely shed'
and I saw, as in a dream— ahem, I can trust you,
gentlemen— a girl I supposed I had forever forgot
58 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
in the mold and dust of my later years. I will not
go further into the matter. My wife's hair is
, "And reading on, but losing the thread of the
poet's eulogy in the golden fabric of my resur-
rected dream, it came to me to compare that maid
I knew in the long ago with the women I know
to-day. Ah, gentlemen ! Lips, made but for smil-
ing, fling weighty arguments on the unoffending
atmosphere. Eyes, made to light with that light
that never was by land or sea, blaze instead with
what they call the injustice of woman's servitude.
White hands, made to find their way to the hands
of some young man in the moonlight, carry ban-
ners in the dusty streets. It seemed I saw the blue
eyes of that girl of long ago turned, sad, rebuking,
on her sisters of to-day. As I finished reading,
my heart was awhirl. I said to the young men
before me :
" There was a woman, gentlemen — a woman
worth a million suffragettes.'
"TXiey applauded. The fire in me died down.
Soon I was my old meek, academic self. The
vision had left no trace. I dismissed my class and
• BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES 59
went home. I found that my wife — she of the
black hair — had left my slippers by the library
fire. I put them on, and plunged into a pamphlet
lately published by a distinguished member of a
German university faculty. I thought the inci-
dent closed forever."
He gazed sorrowfully at the two young men.
"But, gentlemen, I had not counted on that vi-
per that we nourish in our bosom — the American
newspaper. At present I will not take time to de-
nounce the press. I am preparing an article on the
subject for a respectable wxekly of select circula-
tion. Suffice it to record what happened. The
next day an evening paper appeared with a huge
picture of me on its front page, and the hideous
statement that this was the Professor Bolton who
had said that 'One Peroxide Blonde Is Worth a
Million Suffragettes'. '
"Yes, that was the dreadful version of my re-
mark that was spread broadcast. Up to the time
that story appeared, I had no idea as to what sort
of creature the peroxide blonde might be. I pro-
tested, of course. I might as well have tried to
dam a tidal wave with a table fork. The wrath
6o SEVEN KEYS TO J^ALDPATE
of the world swept down upon me. I was deluged
with telegrams, editorials, letters, denouncing me.
Firm-faced females lay in wait for me and waved
umbrellas in my eyes. Even my wife turned from
me, saying that while she did not ask me to hold
her views on the question of suffrage, she thought
I m.ight at least refrain from publicly commend-
ing a type of woman found chiefly in musical
comedy choruses. I received a note from the
president of the university, asking me to be more
circumspect in my remarks. Me — Thadeus Bol-
ton — ^the most conservative man on earth by in-
"And still the denunciations of me poured in;
still women's clubs held meetings resolving against
me; still a steady stream of reporters flowed
through my life, urging me to state my views fur-
ther, to name the ten greatest blondes in history,
to — ^heaven knows what. Yesterday I resolved I
could stand it no longer. I determined to go away
until the whole thing was forgotten. ^But', they
said to me, 'there is no place, on land or sea, where
the reporters will not find you'. I talked the mat-
ter over with my old friend, John Bentley, owner
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES 6r
of Baldpate Inn, and he In his kindness gave me
the key to this hostelry."
The old man paused and passed a silk handker-
chief over his bald head.
**That, sirs," he said, "is my story. That is
why you see me on Baldpate Mountain this chill
December morning. That Is why loneliness can
have no terrors, exile no sorrows, for me. That is
why I bravely faced your revolver-shots. Again
let me repeat, I bear no malice on that score. You
have ruined a new derby hat, and the honorarium
of professor even at a leading university is not
such as to permit of many purchases In that line.
But I forgive you freely. Even at the cannon's
mouth I would have fled from reputation, to para-
phrase the poet."
Wisely Professor Bolton blinked about him.
Mr. Bland was half asleep In his chair, but Mr.
Magee was quick with sympathy.
"Professor," he said, "you are a much suffer-
ing man. I feel for you. Here, I am sure, you
are safe from reporters, and the yellow journals
will soon forget you In their discovery of the next
distorted wonder. Briefly, Mr. Bland and myself
'62 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
will outline the tangle of events that brought us
to the inn — "
I ''Briefly is right/' broke in Bland- "And then
it's me for that mountainous mattress of mine. I
can rattle my story off in short order, and give
you the fine points to-morrow. Up to a short time
But Billy Magee interrupted. An idea, mag-
nificent, delicious, mirthful, had come to him.
Why not? He chuckled inwardly, but his face
was most serious.
"I should like to tell my story first, if you
please," he said.
The haberdasher grunted. The professor nod-
ded. Mr. Magee looked Bland squarely in the
eye, strangled the laugh inside him, and began :
"Up to a short time ago I was a haberdasher in
the city of Reuton. My name, let me state, is
Magee — William Magee. I fitted the gay shoul-
der-blades of Reuton with clothing from the back
pages of the magazines, and as for neckties — "
Mr. Bland's sly eyes had opened wide. He rose
to a majestic height — majestic considering the
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES B3
"See here — " he began.
"Please don't interrupt," requested Mr. Magee
sweetly. "I was, as I have said, a happy care-
free haberdasher. And then — she entered my life.
Arabella was her name. Ah, Professor, your
lady pf the yellow locks, crisped liken golden wire
— even she must never in my presence be com-
pared with Arabella. She — she had — a — face — ^
Noah Webster couldn't have found words to de*
scribe it And her heart was true to yours truly — >
at least I thought that it was.'*
Mr. Magee rattled on. The haberdasher, his
calling and his tragedy snatched from him by the
humorous Magee, retired with sullen face into
his bed quilt. Carefully Mr. Magee led up to the
coming of the man from Jersey City; in detail he
laid bare the duel of haberdashery fought in the
name of the fair Arabella. As he proceeded, his
enthusiasm grew. He added fine bits that had es-
caped Mr. Bland. He painted with free hand the
picture of tragedy's dark hour; the note hinting
at suicide he gave in full. Then he told of how
his courage grew again, of how he put the cow-
ardice of death behind him, resolved to dare all — <
^4 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
and live. He finished at last, his voice husky with
emotion. Out of the corner of his eye he glanced
triumphantly at Bland. That gentleman was gaz-
,^ng thoughtfully at the blazing logs.
*'You did quite right," commented Professor
Eolton, "in making up your mind to live. I con-
gratulate you on your common sense. And per-
haps, as the years go by, you will realize that had
you married your Arabella, you would not have
foimd life all honey and roses. She was fickle,
unworthy of you. Soon you will forget. Youth
— ah, youth throws off its sorrow like a cloak. A
figure not original with me. And now — the gen-
tleman in the — er — the bed quilt. Has he, too, a
*'Yes," laughed Mr. Magee, ''let's hear now
from the gentleman in the bed quilt. Has he, too,
a story? And if so, what is it?"
He smiled delightedly into the eyes of Bland.
What would the ex-haberdasher do, shorn of his
fictional explanation ? Would he rise in his wrath
and denounce the man who had stolen his Ara-
bella? Mr. Bland smiled back. He stood up.
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES '65
And a contingency that had not entered Mr. Ma-
gee's mind came to be.
Mr. Bland walked calmly to the table, and
picked up a popular novel that lay thereon. On
its cover was the picture of a very beautiful
"See that dame?" he inquired of the professor.
"Sort pf makes a man sit up and take notice,
doesn't she? Even the frost-bitten haberdasher
here has got to admit that in some ways she has
this Arabella person looking like a faded chromo
in your grandmother's parlor on a rainy after-
noon. Ever get any notion, Professor, the way a
picture like that boosts a novel in the busy marts
of trade? No? Well—"
Mr. Bland continued. Mr. Magee leaned baclc,
overjoyed, in his chair. Here was a man not to
be annoyed by the mere filching of his story.
Here was a man with a sense of humor — an op-
ponent worthy his foe's best efforts. Im his role
of a haberdasher overcome with woe, Mr. Magee
"I used to paint dames like that," Bland was
66 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
saying to the dazed professor. He explained how
his pictures had enabled many a novelist to "eat
up the highway in a buzz-wagon." As he ap-
proached the time when the novelists besieged
him, he gave full play to his imagination. One,
he said, sought out his apartments in an aeroplane.
"Say, Professor," he finished, "we're in the
same boat. Both hiding from writers. A fellow
that's spent his life selling neckties — well, he can't
exactly appreciate our situation. There's what
you might call a bond between you and me. D'ye
know, I felt drawn to you, just after I fired that
first shot. That's why I didn't blaze away again.
We're going to be great friends — I can read it in
He took the older man's hand feelingly, shook
it, and walked away, casting a covert glance of
triumph at Mr. Ma gee.
The face of the holder of the Crandall Chair
of Comparative Literature was a study. He
looked first at one young man, then at the other.
Again he applied the handkerchief to his shining
"All this is very odd," he said thoughtfully.
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES (^J
*'A man of sixty-two — particularly one who has
long lived in the uninspired circle surrounding a
university — has not the quick wit of youth. I'm
afraid I don't — -but no matter. It's very odd,
He permitted Mr. Magee to escort him into the
hall, and to direct his search for a bed that should
.serve him through the scant remainder of the
night. Overcoats and rugs were pressed into serv-
ice as cover. Mr. Bland blithely assisted.
"If I see any newspaper reporters," he assured
the professor on parting, "I'll damage more than
"Thank you," replied the old man heartily.
"You are very kind. To-morrow we shall become
better acquainted. Good night."
The two young men came out and stood in the
hallway. Mr. Magee spoke in a low tone.
"Forgive me," he said, "for steaHng your Ara-
"Take her and welcome," said Bland. "She
was beginning to bore me, anyhow. And I'm not
in your class as an actor." He came close to Ma-
gee. In the dim light that streamed out from
6S SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
number seven the latter saw the look on his face,
and knew that, underneath all, this was a very;
much worried young man.
*'For God's sake," cried Bland, "tell me whoi
you are and what you're doing here. In three
words — tell me."
"If I did," Mr. Magee replied, "you wouldn't
believe me. Let such minor matters as the truth
wait over till to-morrow."
"Well, anyhow," Bland said, his foot on the top
step, "we are sure of one thing — we don't trust
each other. I've got one parting word for you.
Don't try to come down-stairs to-night. I've got
a gun, and I ain't afraid to shoot."
He paused. A look of fright passed over his
face. For on the floor above they both heard soft
footsteps — then a faint click, as though a door
had been gently closed.
"This inn," whispered Bland, "has more keys
than a literary club in a prohibition town. And
every one's in use, I guess. Remember. Don't
try to come down-stairs. IVe warned you. Off
Arabella's cast-off Romeo may be found with a
bullet in him yet.'*'
BLONDES AND SUFFRAGETTES 69
"I shan't forget what you say," answered Mr,
Magee. "Shall we look about up-stairs?"
Bland shook his head.
"No," he said. "Go in and 2;o to bed. It's the
down-stairs that — that concerns me. Good night."
He went swiftly down the steps, leaving Mr.
Magee staring wonderingly after him. Like a
wraith he merged with the shadows below. Ma-
gee turned slowly, and entered number seven. A
fantastic film of frost was on the windows ; the in-
ner room was drear and chill. Partially undress-
ing, he lay down on the brass bed and pulled the
covers over him.
The events of the night danced in giddy array
before him as he closed his eyes. With every
groan Baldpate Inn uttered in the wind he started
up, keen for a new adventure. At length his mind
seemed to stand still, and there remained of all
that amazing evening's pictures but one — that of
a girl in a blue corduroy suit who wept — wept
pnly that her smile might be the more dazzling
when it flashed behind the tears. "With yellow
locks, crisped like golden wire," murmured Mr.
Magee. And so he fell asleep.
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT APPEARS
EVERY morning at eight, when slumber's
chains had bound Mr. Magee in his New
.York apartments, he was awakened by a pompous
valet named Geoffrey whom he shared with the
other young men in the building. It was Geof-
frey's custom to enter, raise the curtains, and
speak of the weather in a voice vibrant with feel-
ing, as of something he had prepared himself and
was anxious to have Mr. Magee try. So, when
a rattling noise came to his ear on his first morn-
ing at Baldpate Inn, Mr. Magee breathed sleepily
ifrom the covers: "Good morning, Geoffrey."
But no cheery voice replied in terms of sun,
wind, or rain. Surprised, Mr. Magee sat up in
bed. About him, the maple-wood furniture of
suite seven stood shivering in the chill of a De-
cember morning. Through the door at his left he
'A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT 71
caught sight of a white tub into which, he recalled
sadly, not even a Geoffrey could coax a glittering
drop. Yes — he was at Baldpate Inn. He remem-
bered — the climb with the dazed Quimby up the
snowy road, the plaint of the lovelorn haberdash-
er, the vagaries of the professor with a penchant
for blondes, the mysterious click of the door-latch
on the floor above. And last of all — strange that
it should have been last — a girl in blue corduroy
somewhat darker than her eyes, who wept amid
the station's gloom.
**I wonder," reflected Mr. Magee, staring at the
very brassy bars at the foot of his bed, "what new
variations on seclusion the day will bring forth ?'*
Again came the rattling noise that had awak-
ened him. He looked toward the nearest window,
and through an unfrosted corner of the pane he
saw the eyes of the newest variation staring at
him in wonder. They were dark eyes, and kindly ;
they spoke a desire to enter.
Rising from his warm retreat, Mr. Magee took
his shivering way across the uncarpeted floor and
unfastened the window's catch. From the blus-
tering balcony a plump little man stepped inside.
^2 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
He had a market basket on his arm. His face was
a stranger to razors; his hair to shears. He re-
minded Mr. Magee of the celebrated doctor who
came every year to the small town of his boyhood,
there to sell a wonderful healing herb to the
crowds on the street corner.
Magee dived hastily back under the covers.
'Well ?" he questioned.
"So you're the fellow," remarked the little man
in awe. He placed the basket on the floor ; it ap-
peared to be filled with bromidic groceries, such as
the most subdued householder carries home.
Which fellow?" asked Mr. Magee.
The fellow Elijah Quimby told me about," ex-
plained he of the long brown locks. "The fellow
that's come up to Baldpate Inn to be alone with
"You're one of the villagers, I take it," guessed
"You're dead wrong. I'm no villager. My in-
stincts are all in the other direction — away from
the crowd. I live up near the top of Baldpate, in
a little shack I built myself. My name's Peters —
Jake Peters — in the winter. But in the summer.
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT y^
when the inn's open, and the red and white awn-
ings are out, and the band plays in the casino
every night — then I'm the Hermit of Baldpate
Mountain. I come down here and sell picture
post-cards of myself to the ladies."
Mr. Magee appeared overcome with mirth.
"A professional hermit, by the gods !" he cried.
"Say, I didn't know Baldpate Mountain was fitted
up with all the modern improvements. This is
great luck. I'm an amateur at the hermit busi-
ness, you'll have to teach me the fine points. Sit
"Just between ourselves, I'm not a regular her-
mit," said the plump bewhiskered one, sitting gin-
gerly on the edge of a frail chair. "Not one of
these *all for love of a woman' hermits you read
about in books. Of course, I have to pretend I
am, in summer, in order to sell the cards and do
my whole duty by the inn management. A lot of
the women ask me in soft tones about the great
disappointment that drove me to old Baldpate,
and I give 'em various answers, according to how
I feel. Speaking to you as a friend, and consider-
ing the fact that it's the dead of winter, I may say
74 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
there was little or no romance in my life. I mar-
ried early, and stayed married a long time. I
came up here for peace and quiet, and because I
felt a man ought to read something besides time-
tables and tradesmen's bills, and have something
over his head besides a first and second mortgage."
"Back to nature, in other words," remarked
"Yes, sir — back with a rush. I was down to
the village this morning for a few groceries, and
I stopped off at Quimby's, as I often do. He told
me about you. I help him a lot around the inn,
and we arranged I was to stop in and start your
fire, and do any other little errands you might
want done. I thought we ought to get acquainted,
you and me, being as we're both literary men,
after a manner of speaking."
"No?" cried Mr. Magee.
"Yes," said the Hermit of Baldpate. *1 dip
into that work a little now and then. Some of my
verses on the joys of solitude have appeared in
print — on the post-cards I sell to the guests in the
summer. But my life-work, as you might call It,
is a book I've had under way for some time. It's
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT 75
called simply Woman. Just that one word — but,
oh, the meaning in it! That book is going to
prove that all the trouble in the world, from the
beginning of time, was caused by females. Not
just say so, mind you. Prove it!"
"A difficult task, I'm afraid," smiled Magee.
"Not difficult — long," corrected the hermit.
"When I started out, four years ago, I thought it
would just be a case of a chapter on Eve, and hon-
orable mention for Cleopatra and Helen of Troy,
and a few more like tliat, and the thing would be
done. But as I got into the subject, I was fairly
buried under new evidence. Then Mr. Carnegie
came along and gave Upper Asquewan Falls a
library. It's wonderful to think the great works
that man will be responsible for. I've dedicated
Woman to him. Since the new library, I've dug
'up information about a thousand disasters I never
dreamed of before, and I contend that if you go
back a ways in any one of 'em, you'll find the
fluffy little lady that started the whole rumpus.
So I hunt the woman. I reckon the French would
call me the greatest cherchez la femme in history.'*
"A fascinating pursuit," laughed Mr. Magee.
*je SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
I'm glad you've told me about it, and I shall
watch the progress of the work with interest. Al-
though I can't say that I entirely agree with you.
Here and there is a woman who more than makes
amends for whatever trouble her sisters have
caused. One, for instance, with golden hair, and
eyes that when they weep — "
*'You're young," interrupted the little man, ris-
ing. *There ain't no use to debate it with you.
I might as well try to argue with a storm at sea.
Some men keep the illusion to the end of their
days, and I hope you're one. I reckon I'll start
He went into the outer room, and Mr. Magee
lay for a few moments listening to his prepara-
tions about the fireplace. This was comfort, he
thought. And yet, something was wrong. Was
it the growing feeling of emptiness inside? Un-
doubtedly. He sat up in bed and leaning over,
^gazed into the hermit's basket. The packages he
saw there made his feeling of emptiness the more
"I say, Mr. Peters," he cried, leaping from bed
and running into the other room, where the her-
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT *]*2
mit was persuading a faint blaze, "I've an idea.
You can cook, can't you?"
**Cook?" repeated the hermit. "Well, yes, I've
had to learn a few things about it, living far from
the rathskellars the way I do.'*
"The very man," rejoiced Mr. Magee. "You
must stay here and cook for me — for us."
"Us ?" asked the hermit, staring.
"Yes. I forgot to tell you. After Mr. Quimby
left me last night, two other amateur hermits hove
in view. One is a haberdasher with a broken
heart — "
"Woman," cried the triumphant Peters.
"Name, Arabella," laughed Magee. "The
other's a college professor who made an indiscreet
remark about blondes. You won't mind them, I'm
sure, and they may be able to help you a lot with
your great work."
"I don't know what Quimby will say,'* studied
the hermit. "I reckon he'll run 'em out. He's
against this thing — afraid of fire."
"Quimby will come later," Mr. Magee assured
him, drawing on a dressing-gown. "Just now the
idea is a little water in yonder tub, and a nice
78 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
cheerful breakfast after. It's going to pay you a
lot better than selling post-cards to romantic
ladies, I promise you. I won't take you away
from a work for which the world is panting with-
out more than making it up to you financially.
Where do you stand as a coffee maker?"
"Wait till you taste it," said Peters reassur-
ingly. "I'll bring you up some water."
He started for the door, but Mr. Magee pre-
"The haberdasher," he explained, "sleeps be-
low, and he's a nervous man. He might commit
the awful error of shooting the only cook on
Mr. Magee went out into the hall and called
from the depths the figure of Bland, fully attired
in his flashy garments, and looking tawdry and
tired in the morning light.
"I've been up hours," he remarked. "Heard
somebody knocking round the kitchen, but I ain't
seen any breakfast brought in on a silver tray.
My inside feels like the Mammoth Cave."
Mr. Magee introduced the Hermit of Baldpate.
"Pleased to meet you," said Bland. "I guess it
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT 79^
was you I heard in tlie kitchen. So you're going
to cater to this select few, are you ? BeHeve me,
you can't get on the job any too soon to suit me.'*
Out of a near-by door stepped the black-garbed
figure of Professor Thaddeus Bolton, and him
Mr. Magee included in the presentation cere-
monies. After the hermit had disappeared below,
burdened with his market basket and the supplies
Mr. Magee had brought the night before, the
three amateurs at the hermit game gathered by
the fire in number seven, and Mr. Bland spoke
"I don't know where you plucked that cook, but
believe me, you get a vote of thanks from yours
truly. What is he — an advertisement for a hair
"He's a hermit," explained Magee, "and lives
in a shack near the mountain-top. Hermits and
barbers aren't supposed to mix. He's also an au-
thor, and is writing a book in which he lays all the
trouble of the ages at the feet of woman. Please
treat him with the respect all these dignified activ-
"A writer, you say," commented Professor Bol-
8o SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
ton. ''Let us hope it will not interfere with his
cooking abilities. For even I, who am not much
given to thought about material things, must ad-
mit the presence of a gnawing hunger within."
They talked little, being men unfed, while Jake
Peters started proceedings in the kitchen, and
tramped up-stairs with many pails of water. Mr.
Magee requested warm water for shaving; where-
upon he was regarded with mingled emotions by
*'Ypu ain't going to see any skirts up here," Mr.
Bland promised him. And Mr. Peters, bringing
the water from below, took occasion to point out
that shaving was one of man's troubles directly
attributable to woman's presence in the world.
At length the hermit summoned them to break-
fast, and as they descended the broad stair the
heavenly odor of coffee sent a glow to their hearts.
Peters had built a rousing fire in the big fireplace
opposite the clerk's desk in the office, and in front
of this he had placed a table which held promise
of a satisfactory breakfast. As the three sat
down, Mr. Bland spoke ;
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT 8i
''1 don't know about you, gentlemen, but I could
fall on Mr. Peters' neck and call him blessed.'*
The gentleman thus referred to served them
genially. He brought to Mr. Magee, between
whom and himself he recognized the tie of au-
thorship, a copy of a New York paper that he
claimed to get each morning from the station
agent, and which helped him greatly, he said, in
his eternal search for the woman. As the meal
passed, Mr. Magee glanced it through. Twice he
looked up from it to study keenly his queer com-
panions at Baldpate Inn. Finally he handed it
across the table to the haberdasher. The dull yel-
low sun of a winter morning drifted in from the
white outdoors; the fire sputtered gaily in the
grate. Also, Mr. Peters' failing for literature in-
terfered in no way with his talents as cook. The
three finished the repast in great good humor, and
Mr. Magee handed round cigars.
'"Gentlemen," he remarked, pushing baclc his
'chair, "we find ourselves in a peculiar position.
Three lone men, knowing nothing of one another,
we have sought the solitude of Baldpate Inn at
82 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
almost the same moment. Why ? East night, be-
fore you came, Professor Bolton, Mr. Bland gave
me as his reason for being here the story of Ara-
bella, which I afterward appropriated as a joke
and gave as my own reason. I related to Mr.
Bland the fiction about the artist and the besieg-
ing novelists. We swapped stories when you
came — it was our merry little method of doubting
each other's word. Perhaps it was bad taste. At
any rate, looking at it in the morning light, I am
inclined to return Mr. Bland's Arabella, and no
questions asked. He is again the lovelorn haber-
dasher. I am inclined to believe, implicitly, your
story. That is my proposition. No doubts of one
another. We are here for whatever reasons we
say we are."
The professor nodded gravely.
"Last night," went on Mr. Magee, "there was
some talk between Mr. Bland and myself about
one of us leaving the inn. Mr. Bland demanded
it. I trust he sees the matter differently this morn-
ing, I for one should be sorry to see him go."
"I've changed my mind," said Mr. Bland. The
look on his thin face was not a pleasant one.
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT 83
''Very good," went on Mr. Magee. "I see no
reason why we should not proceed on friendly
terms. Mr. Peters has agreed to cook for us. He
can no doubt be persuaded to attend to our other
wants. For his services we shall pay him gener-
ously, in view of the circumstances. As for
Quimby — I leave you to make your peace with
"I have a letter to Mr. Quimby from my old
friend, John Bentley," said the professor, "which
I am sure will win me the caretaker's warm re-
Mr. Magee looked at Bland.
"I'll get Andy Rutter on the wire," said that
gentleman. "Quimby will listen to him, I guess."
"Maybe," remarked Magee carelessly. "Who is
"He's manager of the inn when it's open," an-
swered Bland. He looked suspiciously at Magee.
"I only know him slightly," he added.
"Those matters you will arrange for your-
selves," Mr. Magee went on. "I shall be very
glad of your company if you can fix it to stay.
Believe it or not — I forgot, we agreed to believe.
84 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
didn't we? — I am here to do some writing. I'm
going up to my room now to do a little work. All
I ask of you gentlemen is that, as a favor to me,
you refrain from shooting at each other while I
am gone. You see, I am trying to keep crude
melodrama out of my stuff."
*T am sure," remarked Professor Bolton, *'that
the use of firearms as a means of social diversion
between Mr. Bland and myself is unthought of."
*'I hope so," responded Magee. *'There, then,
the matter rests. We are here — that is all." He
hesitated, as though in doubt. Then, with a de-
cisive motion, he drew toward him the New York
paper. With his eyes on the head-lines of the first
page, he continued : *T shall demand no further
explanations. And except for this once, I shall
make no reference to this story in the newspaper,
to the effect that early yesterday morning, in a
laboratory at one of our leading universities, a
young assistant instructor was found dead under/
peculiar circumstances." He glanced keenly at the
bald-headed little man across from him. "Nor
shall I make conversation of the fact," he added,
"that the professor of chemistry at the university.
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT 85
a man past middle age, respected highly in the uni-
versity circle, is missing."
An oppressive silence followed this remark.
Mr. Bland's sly eyes sought quickly the profess-
or's face. The older man sat staring at his plate ;
then he raised his head and the round spectacles
were turned full on Magee.
*'You are very kind," said Professor Bolton
"There is another story In this paper," went on
Mr. Magee, glancing at the haberdasher, *'that, it
seems to me, I ought to taboo as table talk at Bald-
pate Inn. It relates that a few days ago the youth-
ful cashier of a bank in a small Pennsylvania
town disappeared with thirty thousand dollars of
the bank's funds. No," he concluded, "we are
simply here, gentlemen, and I am very glad to let
it go at that."
Mr. Bland sneered knowingly.
"I should think you w^ould be," he said. "If
you'll turn that paper over you'll read on the bade
page that day before yesterday a lot of expensive
paintings in a New York millionaire's house were
cut from their frames, and that the young artis^
86 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
who was doing retouching in the house at the time
has been just careless enough not to send his ad-
dress to the poHce. It's a small matter, of course,
and the professor and I will never mention it[
Mr. Magee threw back his head and laughed
*'We understand one another, it seems," he
said. 'T look forward to pleasant companionship
where I had expected solitude. You will excuse
me now — there is the work to which I referred.
Ah, here's Peters," he added as the hermit en-
tered through the dining-room door at the side of
"All finished, gentlemen?" he asked, coming
forward. "Now, this is solid comfort, ain't it?
I reckon when you get a few days of this, you'll
all become hermits, and build yourselves shacks
pn the mountain. Solid comfort. No woman to
make you put on overshoes when you go out, or
lecture you about the effects of alcohol on the
stomach. Heaven, I call it."
"Peters," said Mr. Magee, "we have been won-
A PROFESSIONAL HERMIT 87
dering if you will stay on here and cook for us.
.We need you. How about it ?'*
"Well — I'll be glad to help you out," the her-
tnit replied. "I guess I can manage to give satis-'
faction, seeing there ain't no women around. If
there was, I wouldn't think of it. Yes, I'll stay
and do what I can to boost the hermit life in your\
estimation. I — '*
He stopped. His eyes were on the dining-room ;
door, toward which Mr. Magee's back was turned.
The jaw of Peters fell, and his mouth stood wide
open. Behind the underbrush of beard a very
surprised face was discernible.
Mr. Magee turned quickly. A few feet inside
the door stood the girl of the station, weeping no
more, but radiant with smiles. Back of her was
J the determined impossible companion of yester-
"Oh, mamma," laughed the girl, "we're too late
lor breakfast ! Isn't it a shame ?"
Mr. Bland's lean hands went quickly to adjust
his purple tie. Professor Bolton looked every
inch the owl as he blinked in dazed fashion at the
88 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
blue corduroy vision. Gingerly Mr. Peters set
down the plates he had taken from the table, still
neglecting his open mouth.
Mr. Magee rose from the table, and went for-
ward with .outstretched hand.
THE MAYOR CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE
ROM tears to smiles," said Mr. Magee,
taking the girl's hand. "What worked the
transformation? Not the Commercial House, I
know, for I passed it last evening."
"No, hardly the Commercial House," laughed
the girl. "Rather the sunshine of a winter morn-
ing, the brisk walk up the mountain, and the sight
of the Hermit of Baldpate with eyes like saucers
staring at a little girl who once bought his postal
"Then you know Mr. Peters ?" inquired Magee.
"Is that his name ? You see, I never met him in
private life — he was just the hermit when I knew
him. I used to come to Baldpate in the summers,
and send his cards back to the folks at home, and
dream dreams of his love-story when from my
window I saw the light of his shack at night. Vm
so glad to meet Mr. Peters informally."
90 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
She held out her hand, but Peters, by long prac-
tise wary of women, had burdened himself witH
^breakfast plates which prevented his clasping it.
He muttered "How d'ye do?" and fled toward the
door, narrowly averting what would have proved
a serious collision with the large woman on the
"Mr. Peters meets so few of your sex in win-
ter," Magee apologized, "you must pardon his
clumsiness. This gentleman" — he indicated the
professor, who arose — "is Thaddeus Bolton, a
distinguished member of a certain university fac-
ulty, who has fled to Baldpate to escape the press
of America. And this is Mr. Bland, who hides
here from the world the scars of a broken heart
But let us not go into details."
The girl smiled brightly. ."And you — " she
"William Hallowell Magee," he returned, bow-
ing low. "I have a neat little collection of stories
accounting for my presence here, from which I
shall allow you to choose later. Not to mention
the real one, which is simple almost to a fault."
"I am so happy to meet you all," said the girl..
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 91
"We shall no doubt become very good friends.
For mamma and I have also come to Baldpate
Inn — to stay."
Mr, Bland opened wide his usually narrow eyes,
and ran his hand thoughtfully over his one day's
beard. Professor Bolton blinked his astonish-
ment. Mr. Magee smiled.
"I, for one, am delighted to hear it," he said.
"My name," went on the girl, "is Mary Norton,
May I present my mother, Mrs. Norton ?"
The older woman adopted what was obviously
her society manner. Once again Mr. Magee felt
a pang of regret that this should be the parent of
a girl so charming.
"I certainly am pleased to meet you all," she
said in her heavy voice. "Ain't it a lovely morn-
ing after the storm? The sun's almost blinding.'*
"Some explanation," put in Miss Norton quick-
ly, "is due you if I am to thrust myself thus upon
you. I am perfectly willing to tell why I am
here — but the matter mustn't leak out. I can trust
you, I'm sure."
' Mr. Magee drew up chairs, and the two women
were seated before the fire.
^2 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
'The bandits of Baldpate," he remarked flip-
pantly, glancing at the two men, "have their own
code of honor, and the first rule is never to betray
"Splendid !" laughed the girl. "You said, I be-
lieve, that Professor Bolton was fleeing from the
newspapers. I am fleeing for the newspapers — •
to attract their attention — to lure them into giving
me that thing so necessary to a woman in my pro-
fession, publicity. You see, I am an actress. The
name I gave you is not my stage name. That,
perhaps, you would know. I employ a gentleman
to keep me before the public as much as possible.
It's horrid, I know, but it means bread and butter
to me. That gentleman, my press-agent, evolved
the present scheme — a mysterious disappearance."
j She paused and looked at the others. Mr. Ma-
gee surveyed her narrowly. The youthful bloom
of her cheek carried to him no story of grease
paint; her unaffected manner was far from sug-
gesting anything remotely connected with the
stage. He wondered.
"I am to disappear completely for a time," she
went on. " *As though the earth had swallowed
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 93
me' will be the good old phrase of the reporters.
I am to linger here at Baldpate Inn, .1 key to which
my press-agent has secured for me. Meanwhile,
the papers will speak tearfully of me in their head-
lines — at least, I hope they will. Can't you just
see them — those head-lines? 'Beautiful Actress
Drops from Sight'." She stopped, blushing.
*'Every woman who gets into print, you know, is
"But it'd be no lie in your case, dearie," put in
Mrs. Norton, feeling carefully of her atrociously
blond store hair.
"Your mother takes the words from my
mouth," smiled Mr. Magee. "Guard as they will
against it, the newspapers let the truth crop out
occasionally. And this will be such an occasion."
"From what part of Ireland do you come?"
laughed the girl. She seemed somewhat embar-
rassed by her mother's open admiration. "Well,
setting all blarney aside, such will be the head-,
lines. And when the last clue is exhausted, and
my press-agent is the same, I come back to appear
in a new play, a well-known actress. Of such flip-
pant things is a Broadway reputation built."
94 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"We all wIsH you success, I'm sure." Mr. Ma-
gee searched his memory in vain for this "ac-
itress's" name and fame. Could it be possible, he
fwondered, at this late day, that any one would try
for publicity by such an obvious worn-out road?
Hardly. The answer was simple. Another fable
was being spun from whole cloth beneath the roof
of Baldpate Inn. "We have a New York paper
here," he went on, "but as yet there seems to be
no news of your sad disappearance,"
"Wouldn't it be the limit if they didn't fall for
it ?" queried the older woman.
"Fall for it," repeated Professor Bolton, not
questioningly, but with the air of a scientist about
to add a new and rare specimen to his alcohol jar.
"She means, if they didn't accept my disappear-
'ance as legitimate news," explained the girl.
"That would be very disappointing. But surely
there was no harm in making the experiment."
"They're a clever lot, those newspaper guys,"
sneered Mr. Bland, "in their own opinion. But
when you come right down to it, every one of 'em
has a nice little collection of gold bricks in his
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 95
closet. I guess youVe got them going. I hope
"Thanic you/' smiled the girl. *'You are very
kind. You are here, I understand, because of an
unfortunate — er — affair of the heart?"
Mr. Bland smoothed back his black oily hair
from his forehead, and smirked. "Oh, now — "
"Arabella," put in Mr. Magee, "was her name.
The beauties of history and mythology hobbled
into oblivion at sight pf her."
"I'm quick to forget," insisted Mr. Bland.
"That does you no credit, I'm sure," replied the
girl severely. "And now, mamma, I think we
had better select our rooms — "
She paused. For Elijah Quimby had come in
through the dining-room door, and stood gazing
at the grpup before the fire, his face reflecting
what Mr. Magee, the novelist, would not have hes-
itated a moment in terming "mingled emotions".
"Well,'' drawled Mr. Quimby. He strode mto
the room. "Mr. Magee," he said, "that letter
from Mr. Bentley asked me to let you stay at
96 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Baldpate Inn. There wasn't anything in it about
your bringing parties of friends along."
"These are not friends I've brought along," ex-
plained Magee. "They're simply some more ama-
teur hermits who have strolled in from time to
time. All have their individual latch-keys to the
hermitage. And all, I believe, have credentials
for you to examine."
Mr. Quimby stared in angry wonder.
"Is the world crazy?" he demanded. "Any one
'd think it was July, the way people act. The
inn's closed, I tell you. It ain't running."
Professor Bolton rose from his chair.
"So you are Quimby," he said in a soothing
tone. "I'm glad to meet you at last. My old
friend John Bentley has spoken of you so often.
I have a letter from him." He drew the care-
taker to one side, and took an envelope from his
pocket. The two conversed in low tones.
Quickly the girl in the corduroy suit leaned to-
ward Mr. Magee. She whispered, and her tone
was troubled :
"Stand by me. I'm afraid I'll need your help.**
"What's the matter?" inquired Magee.
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 97
*1 haven't much of any right here, I guess. But
I had to come."
"But your key?"
*'I fear my — my press-agent — stole it."
A scornful remark as to the antiquated methods
of that mythical publicity promoter rose to Mr.
Magee's lips, but before he spoke he looked into
her eyes. And the remark was never made. For
in their wonderful depths he saw worry and fear
and unhappiness, as he had seen them there amid
tears in the station.
"Never mind," he said very gently, "I'll see you
Quimby was standing over Mr. Bland. "How
about you ?" he asked.
"Call up Andy Rutter and ask about me," re-
plied Bland, in the tone of one who prefers war
"I work for Mr. Bentley," said Quimby.
"Rutter hasn't any authority here. He isn't to b^
manager next season, I understand. However,
the professor wants me to let you stay. He says
he'll be responsible." Mr. Bland looked in open-
mouthed astonishment at the unexpected sponsor
98 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
he had found. "And you?" went on Quimby to
"Why — " began Miss Norton.
"Absolutely all right," said Mr. Magee. "They
come from Hal Bentley, like myself. He*s put
them in my care. I'll answer for them." He saw
the girl's eyes ; they spoke her thanks.
Mr. Quimby shook his head as one in a dream.
"All this is beyond me — way beyond," he rumi-
nated. "Nothing like it ever happened before
that I've heard of. I'm going to write all about it
to Mr. Bentley, and I suppose I got to let you stay
till I hear from him. I think he ought to come up
here, if he can."
"The more the merrier," said Mr. Magee, re-
flecting cheerfully that the Bentleys were in Flor-
ida at last accounts.
"Come, mamma," said Miss Norton, rising,
"let's go up and pick out a suite. There's one I
used to have a few years ago — you can see the*
■hermit's shack from the windows. By the way,
Mr. Magee, will you send Mr. Peters up to us?
He may be able to help us get settled."
"Ahem," muttered Mr. Magee, "I — I'll have a
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 99
talk with Peters. To be quite franlc, I anticipate
trouble. You see, the Hermit of Baldpate doesn't
approve pf women — "
*'Don't approve of women," cried Mrs. Norton,
her green eyes flashing. "Why not, I'd like to
"My dear madam," responded Mr. Magee,
"only echo answers, and it but vacuously repeats,
*Why not?'. That, however, is the situation.
Mr. Peters loathes the sex. I imagine that, until
to-day, he was not particularly happy in the ex-
amples of it he encountered. Why, he has even
gone so far as to undertake a book attributing
all the trouble of the world to woman."
"The idiot !" cried Mrs. Norton.
"Delicious !" laughed the girl.
"I shall ask Peters to serve you," said Magee.
"I shall appeal to his gallant side. But I must
proceed gently. This is his first day as our cook,
and you know how necessary a good first impres-
sion is with a new cook. I'll appeal to his better
"Don't do it," cried the girl. "Don't empha-
size us to him in any way, or he may exercise his
100 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
right as cook and leave. Just ignore us. We'll
play at being our own bell-boys."
"Ignore you," cried Mr. Magee. "What Her-
culean tasks you set. I'm not equal to that one."
He picked up their traveling-bags and led the way
np-stairs. "I'm something of a bell-boy myself,
when roused," he said.
The girl selected suite seventeen, at the farther
end of the corridor from Magee's apartments.
"It's the very one I used to have, years and years
ago — at least two or three years ago," she said.
"Isn't it stupid? All the furniture in a heap."
"And cold," said Mrs. Norton. "My land, I
wish I w^as back by my own fire."
"I'll make you regret your words, Mrs. Nor-
ton," cried Magee. He threw up the windows,
pulled off his coat, and set to work on the furni-
ture. The girl bustled about, lightening his work
by her smile. Mrs. Norton managed to get con-
sistently in the way. When he had the furniture
distributed, he procured logs and tried his hand
at a fire. Then he stood, his black hair disheveled,
his hands soiled, but his heart very gay, before
the girl vi Xhe station.
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE loi
"I hope you don't expect a tip," she said, laugh-
"I do," he said, coming closer, and speaking
,in a voice that was not for the ear of the chap-
eron. "I want a tip on this — do you really act ?"
She loolced at him steadily.
"Once," she said, *'when I was sixteen, I ap-
peared in an amateur play at school. It was my
first and last appearance on the stage."
"Thanks, lady," remarked Mr. Magee in imi-
tation of the bell-boy he was supposed to be. He
sought number seven. There he made himself
again presentable, after which he descended to
Mr. Bland sat reading the New York paper
before the fire. From the little card-room and
the parlor, the two room.s to the right and left
of the hotel's front door, Quimby had brought
forth extra chairs. He stood now by the large
I chair that held Professor Bolton, engaged in con-
versation with that gentleman.
"Yes," he was saying, "I lived three years in
Reuton and five years in New York. It took me
eight years — eight years to realize the truth."
102 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I heard about it from John Bentley," the pro-
fessor said gently.
*'He's been pretty kind to me, Mr. Bentley
Ihas/' replied Quimby. "When the money was
all gone, he offered me this job. Once the Quim-
bys owned most of the land around Baldpate
Mountain. It all went in those eight years. To
think that it took all those years for me to find
*Tf I'm not impertinent, Quimby," put in Ma-
gee, "to find what out ?"
"That what I wanted, the railroad men didn't
want," replied Quimby bitterly, "and that was —
the safety of the public. You see, I invented a
new rail joint, one that was a great improvement
on the old kind. I had sort of an idea, when I
was doing it — an idea of service to the world
— you know. God, what a joke! I sold all the
1 Quimby lands, and went to Reuton, and then to
New York, to place it. Not one of the railroad
men but admitted that it was an improvement,
and a big one — and not one but fought like mad
to keep me from getting it down where the pub-
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 103
lie would see it. They didn't want the expense
of a change."
Mr. Quimby looked out at the sunlit stretch of
Eight years," he repeated, "I fought and
pleaded. No, I begged — that was the word — I
begged. You'd be surprised to know the names
of some of the men who kept me waiting in their
private offices, and sneered at me over their pol-
ished desks. They turned me down — every one.
Some of them played me — as though I'd been a
fish. They referred me to other ends of the
same big game, laughing in their sleeves, I guess,
at the knowledge of how hopeless it was. Oh,
they made a fine fool of me."
"You might have put down some of your joints
at your own expense," suggested the professor.
"Didn't I try ?" cried Quimby. "Do you think ,
they'd let me? No, the public might see them
and demand them everywhere. Once, I thought
I had convinced somebody. It was down in
Reuton — the Suburban Railway." There was a
rustle as Mr. Bland let his paper fall to the floor.
104 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Old Henry Thornhill was president of the road
" — he is yet, I guess — but young Hayden and a
fellow named David Kendrick were running it.
Kendrick was on my side — he almost had Hay-
den. They were going to let me lay a stretch of
track with my joints. Then — something hap-
pened. Maybe you remember. Kendrick disap-
peared in the night — he's never been seen since."
I do remember/' said the professor softly.
Hayden turned me down," went on Quimby.
"The money was all gone. So I came back to
Upper Asquewan — caretaker of an inn that over-
looks the property my father owned — the prop-
erty I squandered for a chance to save human
lives. It's all like a dream now — those eight
years. And it nearly drives me mad, sometimes,
to think that it took me eight years — eight years
to find it out. ril just straighten things around
He moved away, and the men sat in silence for
a time. Then the professor spoke very gently:
"Poor devil — to have had his dream of service
— and then grow old on Baldpate."
The two joined Mr. Bland by the fire. Mn
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 105
Magee had put from his mind all Intention of
work. The maze of events through which he
wandered held him bewildered and enthralled.
He looked at the haberdasher and the university
scholar and asked himself if they were real, or
if he was still asleep in a room on a side street
in New York, waiting for the cheery coming of
Geoffrey. He asked himself still more perplex-
edly if the creature that came toward him now
through the dining-room door was real — the
hairy Hermit of Baldpate, like a figure out of
some old print, his market basket on his arm
again, his coat buttoned to the chin.
"Well, everything's shipshape in the kitchen/^
announced the hermit cheerfully. "I couldn't go
without seeing to that. I wish you the best of
luck, gentlemen — and good-by."
"Good-by?" cried the professor.
*'By the gods, he's leaving us," almost wept
"It can't be," said Mr. Magee.
"It has to be," said the Hermit of Baldpate,
solemnly shaking his head. "I'd like to stay with
you, and I would of, if they hadn't come. But
io6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
here they are — and when women come in the
door, I fly out of the window, as the saying is.'*
"But, Peters,'' pleaded Magee, "you're not go-
'"ing to leave us in the hole like this ?"
"Sorry," replied Peters, "I can please men,
but I can't please women. I tried to please one
once — but let the dead past bury its dead. I live
on Baldpate in a shack to escape the sex, and it
wouldn't be consistent for me to stay here now.
I got to go. I hate to, like a dog, but I got to."
"Peters," said Mr. Magee, "I'm surprised.
After giving your word to stay 1 And who knows
' — you may be able to gather valuable data for
your book. Stick around. These women won't
bother you. I'll make them promise never to
ask about the love-affair you didn't have — never
even to come near you. And we'll pay you be-
yond the dreams of avarice of a Broadway chef.
[Won't we, gentlemen?"
The others nodded. Mr. Peters visibly weak-
"Well-^" he began. "I — " His eyes were on
the stair. Mr. Magee also looked in that direc-
tion and saw the girl of the station smiling down.
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 107
She no longer wore coat and hat, and the absence
of the latter revealed a glory of golden hair
that became instantly a rival to the sunshine in
that drear bare room.
"No, Peters," she said, *'you mustn't go. We
couldn't permit it. Mamma and I will go."
She continued to smile at the obviously daz-
zled Peters. Suddenly he spoke in a determined
^'No— don't do that. I'll stay." Then he
turned to Magee, and continued for that gentle-
man's ear alone: "Dog-gone it, we're all alike.
We resolve and resolve, and then one of them
looks at us, and it's all forgot. I had a friend
who advertised for a wife, leastways, he was a
friend until he advertised. He got ninety-two re-
plies, seventy of 'em from married men advising
against the step. T'm cured,' he says to me. *Not
for me.' Did he keep his word? No. A week
after he married a widow just to see if what the
seventy said was true. I'm mortal. I hang
around the buzz-saw. If you give me a little
money, I'll go down to the village and buy the
provisions for lunch."
168 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Gleefully Mr. Magee started the hermit on his
way, and then went over to where the girl stood
at the foot of the stairs.
"I promised him," he told her, "you'd ask no
questions regarding his broken heart. It seems he
"That's horrid of him, isn't it?" she smiled.
"Every good hermit is equipped with a broken
heart. I certainly shan't bother him. I came
down to get some water."
They went together to the kitchen, found a
pail, and filled it with icy water from the pump
at the rear of the inn. Inside once more, Mr.
Magee remarked thoughtfully:
"Who would have guessed a week ago that to-
day I would be climbing the broad staircase of a
summer hotel carrying a pail of water for a lady
They paused on the landing.
"There are more things in heaven and earth,
Horatio," smiled the girl,"than are dreamed of,
even by novelists." Mr. Magee started. Had
she recognized him as the Magee of light fiction?
It seemed hardly likely; they read his books, but
HE CASTS A SHADOW BEFORE 109
they rarely remembered his name. Her face
went suddenly grave. She came closer. "I can't
help wondering," she said, ^Svhich side you are
'Which side of what?" asked Magee.
'Why, of this," she answered, waving her hand
toward the office below.
*'I don't understand," objected Mr. Magee.
''Let's not be silly," she replied. "You know
what brought me here. I know what brought
you. There are three sides, and only one is hon-
est. I hope, so very much, that you are on that
"Upon my word — " began Magee.
"Will it interest you to know," she continued,
"I saw the big mayor of Reuton in the village
this morning? With him was his shadow, Lou
Max. Let's see — you had the first key, Mr.
Bland the second, the professor the third, and I
had the fourth. The mayor has the fifth key, of
course. He'll be here soon."
"The mayor," gasped Mr. Magee. "Really, I
haven't the slightest idea what you mean. I'm
here to work — "
no SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Very well," said the girl coldly, "if you wisH
it that way." They came to the door of seven-
teen, and she took the pail from Mr. Magee's
" 'Where are you going, my pretty maid ?' "
asked Magee, indicating the pail.
" * "I'll see you at luncheon, sir," she said,' " re-
sponded Miss Norton, and the door of seventeen
Mr. Magee returned to number seven, and
thoughtfully stirred the fire. The tangle pf events
bade fair to swamp him.
"The mayor of Reuton," he mused, "has the
fifth key. iWhat in the name of common sense
is going on? It's too much even for melodra-
matic me." He leaned back in his chair. "Any-
how, I like her eyes," he said. "And I shouldn't
want to be quoted as disapproving of her hair,
either. I'm on her side, whichever it may be."
GHOSTS OF THE SUMMER CROWD
WONDER," Miss Norton smiled up into
Mr. Magee's face, "if you ever watched the
people at a summer hotel get set on their mark for
the sprint through the dining-room door ?'^
"No," answered Magee, "but I have visited the
Zop at meal-time. They tell me it is much the
"A brutal comparison," said the girl. "But
just the same I'm sure that the head waiter who
opens the door here at Baldpate must feel much
the same at the moment as the keeper who prof-
fers the raw meat on the end of the pitchfork.
He faces such a wild determined mob. The
front rank is made up of hard-faced women
worn out by veranda gossip. Usually some stiff
old dowager crosses the tape first. I was thinking
that perhaps we resembled that crowd in the eyes
of Mr. Peters now."
112 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
It was past one o'clock, and Mr. Magee with
his four mysterious companions stood before the
fire in the office, each with an eager eye out for
the progress of the hermit, who was preparing
the table beside them. Through the kindness of
Quimby, the board was resplendent with snowy
"We may seem over-eager," commented Pro-
fessor Bolton. "I have no doubt we do. It is
only natural. With nothing to look forward to
but the next meal, the human animal attaches a
preposterous importance to his feeding. We are
in the same case as the summer guests — ''
*'Are we?" interrupted Mr. Magee. ''Have we
nothing but the next meal to look forward to ? I
think not. I haven't. I've come to value too
highly the capacity for excitement of Baldpate
Inn in December. I look forward to startling
things. I expect, before the day is out, at least
two gold-laced kings, an exiled poet, and a lord
mayor, all armed with keys to Baldpate Inn and
stories strange and unconvincing."
"Your adventures of the last twenty-four
hours," remarked the professor, smiling wanly,
THE SUMMER CROWD 113
**have led you to expect too much. I have made
Inquiries of Quimby. There are, aside from his
own, but seven keys in all to the various doors of
Baldpate Inn. Four are here represented. It is
hardly likely that the other three will send dele-
gates, and if they should, you have but a
slim chance for kings and poets. Even Baldpate's
capacity for excitement, you see, is limited by the
number of little steel keys which open its portals
tp exiles from the outside world. I am reminded
of the words of the philosopher — "
"Well, Peters, old top," broke in Mr. Bland
in robust tones, *'isn't she nearly off the fire?"
"Now see here," said the hermit, setting down
the armful of dishes with which he had entered
the office, "I can't be hurried. I'm all upset, as it
is. I can't cook to please women — I don't pretend
to. I have to take all sorts of precautions with
this lunch. Without meaning to be impolite, but
i just because of a passion for cold facts, I may say
that women are faultfinding."
"I'm sure," said Miss Norton sweetly, "that
I shall consider your luncheon perfect."
"They get more faultfinding as they get old-
114 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
er,'* replied Mr. Peters ungallantly, glancing at
the other woman.
Mrs. Norton glared.
"Meaning me, I suppose," she rasped. "Well,
don't worry. I ain't going to find anything
"I ain't asking the impossible," responded Mr.
Peters. "I ain't asking you not to find anything
wrong. I'm just asking you not to mention it
when you do." He retired to the kitchen.
Mrs. Norton caressed her puffs lovingly.
"What that man needs," she said, "is a
woman's guiding hand. He's lived alone too long.
I'd like to have charge of him for a while. Not
that I wouldn't be kind — but I'd be firm. If poor
Norton was alive to-day he'd testify that I was
always kindness itself. But I insisted on his liv-
ing up to his promises. When I was a girl I was
mighty popular. I had a lot of admirers."
"No one could possibly doubt that," Mr. Magee
"Then Norton came along," she went on, re-
warding Magee with a smile, "and said he wanted
to make me happy. So I thought I'd let him try.
THE SUMMER CROWD 115
He was a splendid man, but there's no denying
that in the years we were married he sometimes
forgot what he started out to do. I always
brought him up sharp. *Your great desire/ I told
him, *is to make me happy. I'd keep on the job
if I was you!' And he did, to the day of his
death. A perfectly lovely man, though careless
in money matters. If he hadn't had that failing
I wouldn't be—"
Miss Norton, her cheeks flushed, broke in hur-
"Mamma, these gentlemen can't be at all inter-
ested." Deftly she turned the conversation to
Mr. Peters at last seated the winter guests of
Baldpate Inn, and opened his luncheon with a
soup which he claimed to have wrested from a
can. This news drew from Professor Bolton a
learned discourse on the tinned aids to the hermit
of to-day. He pictured the seeker for solitude
setting out for a desert isle, with canned foods
for his body and canned music for his soul. "Rob-
inson Crusoe," he said, "should be rewritten
with a can-opener in the leading role." Mrs.
ii6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Norton gave the talk a more practical turn by
bringing up the topic of ptomaine poisoning.
While the conversation drifted on, Mr. Magee
pondered in silence the weird mesh in which he
had become involved. What did it all mean?
What brought these people to Baldpate Christmas
week? His eyes sought the great safe back of the
desk, and stayed there a long time. In that safe,
he was sure, lay the answer to this preposterous
riddle. When his thoughts came back to the table
he iound Mr. Bland eying him narrowly. There
was a troubled look on the haberdasher's lean
face that could never be ascribed to the cruelty
The luncheon over. Miss Norton and her
mother prepared to ascend to their rooms. Mr.
Magee maneuvered so as to meet the girl at the
foot of the stairs.
** Won't you come back," he whispered softly,
"and explain things to a poor hermit who is com-
pletely at sea ?"
What things?" she asked.
What it all means," he whispered. "Why you
THE SUMMER CROWD 117
wept in the station, why you invented the story
of the actress, why you came here to brighten
my drab exile — what this whole comedy of Bald-
pate Inn amounts to, anyhow ? I assure you I am
as innocent of understanding it as is the czar of
Russia on his golden throne."
She only looked at him with unbelieving eyes.
*'You can hardly expect me to credit that," she
said. ''I must go up now and read mamma into
the pleasant land of thin girlish figures that is
her afternoon siesta. I may come back and talk
to you after a while, but I don't promise to ex-
''Come back," pleaded Mr. Magee. "That is
all I ask."
"A tiny boon," she smiled. "I grant it."
She followed the generous figure of the other
woman up the stair and, casting back a dazzling
smile from the landing, disappeared. Mr. Magee
turned to find Professor Bolton discoursing to
Mr. Bland on some aspects of the Pagan Renais-
sance. Mr. Bland's face was pained.
"That's great stuff, Professor," he said, "and
Ii8 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
usually I'd like it. But just now — I don't seem
in the mood, somehow. Would you mind saving
it for me till later?" ,.
''Certainly," sighed the professor. Mr. Bland)
slouched into the depths of his chair. Professor
Bolton turned his disappointed face ceilingward.
Laughing, Mr. Magee sought the solitude of
"After all, I'm here to work," he told himself.
"Alarms and excursions and blue eyes must not
turn me from my task. Let's see — what was my
task? A deep heart-searching novel, a novel de-
void of rabid melodrama. It becomes more diffi-
cult every minute here at Baldpate Inn. But that
should only add more zest to the struggle. I
devote the next two hours to thought."
He pulled his chair up before the blazing
hearth, and gazed into the red depths. But his
thoughts refused to turn to the masterpiece that
was to be born on Baldpate. They roamed to far-
off Broadway ; they strolled with Helen Faulkner
— the girl he meant to marry if he ever got round
to it — along dignified Fifth Avenue. Then joy-
ously they trooped to a far more alluring, more
THE SUMMER CROWD 119
human girl, who pressed a bit of cambric to het
face in a railway station, while a ginger-haired
agent peeped through the bars. How ridiculously
small that bit of cambric had been to hide so mucH
beauty. Soon Mr. Magee's thoughts were climbing
Baldpate Mountain, there to wander In a mystic
maze of ghostly figures which appeared from the
shadows, holding aloft in triumph gigantic keys.
Mr. Magee had slept but little the night before.
The quick December dusk filled number seven
when he awoke with a start.
He remembered that he had asked the girl to
come back to the of^ce, and berated himself to
think that probably she had done so only to find
that he was not there. Hastily straightening his
tie, and dashing the traces of sleep from his eyes
with the aid of cold water, he ran down-stairs.
The great bare room was In darkness save for
the faint red of the fire. Before the fireplace sat
^the girl of the station, her hair gleaming with a
new splendor in that light. She looked in mock
reproval at Mr. Magee.
*Tor shame," she said^ "to be late at the tryst-
120 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"A thousand pardons," Mr. Magee replied. *'I
fell asleep and dreamed of a girl who wept in a
railway station — and she was so altogether
charming I could not tear myself away."
"I fear," she laughed, "you are old in the ways
of the world. A passion for sleep seems to have
seized the hermits. The professor has gone to his
room for that purpose. And Mr. Bland, his
broken heart forgot, slumbers over there." She
pointed to the haberdasher inert in a big chair
drawn up near the clerk^s desk. "Only you and
I in all the world awake."
"Pretty lonesome, isn't it ?" Mr. Magee glanced
over his shoulder at the shadows that crept in
"I was finding it very busy when you came,"
she answered. "You see, I have known the inn
when it was gay with summer people, and as I
sat here by the fire I pretended I saw the ghosts
of a lot of the people I knew flitting about in the
dusk. The rocking-chair fleet sailed by — "
"Black flag flying, decks cleared for action — I
saw the rocking-chair fleet go by." She smiled
THE SUMMER CROWD 121
faintly. "We always called them that. Bitter,
unkind old women who sat hour after hour on the
veranda, and rocked and gossiped, and gossiped
and rocked. All the old women in the world
seem to gather at summer hotels. And, oh, the
cruel mouths the fleet had — just thin lines of
mouths — I used to look at them and wonder if
any one had ever kissed them."
The girl's eyes were very large and tender in
"And I saw some poor little ghosts weeping in
a corner," she went on; "a few that the fleet had
run down and sunk in the sea of gossip. A little
ghost whose mother had not been all she should
have been, and the fleet found it out, and rocked,
and whispered, and she went away. And a few
who were poor — the most terrible of sins — to
them the fleet showed no mercy. And a fine
proud girl, Myra Thornhill, who was engaged to
a man named Kendrick, and who never dared
come here again after Kendrick suddenly disap-
peared, because of the whispered dishonors the
fleet heaped upon his head."
'What wicked women !" said Magee.
122 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"The wickedest women in the world," answered
the girl. "But every summer resort must have its
,;fleet. I doubt if any other ever had its admiral,
though — and that makes Baldpate supreme."
"Its admiral ?"
"Yes. He isn't really that, I imagine — sort of
a vice, or an assistant, or whatever it is, long ago
retired from the navy. Every summer he comes
here, and the place revolves about him. It's all so
funny. I wonder if any other crowd attains such
heights of snobbishness as that at a summer
resort? It's the admiral this, and the admiral
that, from the moment he enters the door. Nearly
every day the manager of Baldpate has a new
picture of the admiral taken, and hangs it here in
the hotel. I'll show them to you when it's light.
There's one over there by the desk, of the admiral
and the manager together, and the manager has
thrown his arm carelessly over the admiral's
ishoulder with 'See how well I know him' written
*all over his stupid face. Oh, what snobs they
"And the fleet?" asked Mr. Magee.
"Worships him. They fish all day for a smile
THE SUMMER CROWD 123
from him. They keep track of his goings and
comings, and when he is in the card-room playing
his silly old game of solitaire, they run down their
victims in subdued tones so as not to disturb
"What an interesting place," said Mr. Magee.
"1 must visit Baldpate next summer. Shall —
shall you be here ?"
*Tt's so amusing," she smiled, ignoring the
question. "You'll enjoy it. And it isn't all fleet
and admiral. There's happiness, and romance,
and whispering on the stairs. At night, when the
lights are all blazing, and the band is playing
waltzes in the casino, and somebody is giving a
dinner in the grill-room, and the girls flit about
in the shadows looking too sweet for words — well,
Baldpate Inn is a rather entrancing spot. I re-
member those nights very often now.'* 1
Mr. Magee leaned closer. The flicker of the
firelight on her delicate face, he decided, was an
"I can well believe you do remember them,"
he said. "And it's no effort at all to me to pic-
ture you as one of those who flitted through the
124 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
shadows — too sweet for words. I can see you
the heroine of whispering scenes on the stair. I
can see you walking with a dazzled happy man
on the mountain in the moonlight. Many men
have loved you."
"Are you reading my pakn?" she asked, laugh-
"No — ^your face," answered Mr. Magee.
"Many men have loved you, for very few men are
blind. I am sorry I was not the man on the stair,
or on the mountain in the moonlight. Wlio knows
— I might have been the favored one for my
single summer of joy."
The autumn always came," smiled the girl.
It would never have come for me," he an-
'swered. "Won't you believe me when I say that
I have no part in this strange drama that is going
on at Baldpate ? Won't you credit it when I say
that I have no idea why you and the professor
and Mr. Bland are here — nor why the Mayor of
Reuton has the fifth key? Won't you tell me
what it all means ?"
"I mustn't," she replied, shaking her head. "I
THE SUMMER CROWD 125
can trust no one — not even you. I mustn't believe
that you don't know — it's preposterous. I must
say over and over — even he is simply — will you
pardon me — flirting, trying to learn what he can
learn. I must.'*
*'You can't even tell me why you wept in the
"For a simple silly reason. I was afraid. I
had taken up a task too big for me by far —
taken it up bravely when I was out in the sunlight
of Reuton. But when I saw Upper Asquewan
Falls, and the dark came, and that dingy station
swallowed me up, something gave way inside me
and I felt I was going to fail. So — I cried. A
"If I were only permitted to help — " Mr. Ma-
"No — I must go forward alone. I can trust
no one, now. Perhaps things will change. I
hope they will."
"Listen," said Mr. Magee. "I am telling you
the truth. Perhaps you read a novel called The
Lost Limousine/' He was resolved to claim its
126 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
authorship, tell her of his real purpose in coming
to Baldpate, and urge her to confide in him re-
garding the odd happenings at the inn.
"Yes," said the girl before he could continue.
"I did read it. And it hurt me. It was so terribly
insincere. The man had talent who wrote it, but
he seemed to say: 'It's all a great big joke. I
don't believe In these people myself. I've just
created them to make them dance for you. Don't
be fooled — it's only a novel.' I don't like that sort
of thing. I want a writer really to mean all he
says from the bottom of his heart.''
Mr. Magee bit his lip. His determination to
claim the authorship of The Lost Limousine was
"I want him to make me feel with his people,"
the girl went on seriously. "Perhaps I can explain
by telling you of something that happened to me
once. It was while I was at college. There was a
blind girl in my class and one night I went to call
on her. I met her in the corridor of her dormi-
tory. Somebody had just brought her back from
an evening lecture, and left her there. She un-
locked her door, and we went in. It was pitch
THE SUMMER CROWD 127
dark in the room — the first thing I thought of
was a light. But she — she just sat down and be-
gan to talk. She had forgot to light the gas."
The girl paused, her eyes very wide, and it
seemed to Mr. Magee that she shivered slightly.
"Can you imagine it?" she asked. "She chatted
on — quite cheerfully as I remember it. And I — I
stumbled round and fell into a chair, cold and
trembly and sick with the awful horror of blind-
ness, for the first time in my life. I thought I
had imagined before what it was to be blind —
just by shutting my eyes for a second. But as
I sat there in the blackness, and listened to that
girl chatter, and realized that it had never oc-
curred to her to light a lamp — then for the first
time — I knew — I knew."
Again she stopped, and Mr. Magee, looking at
her, felt what he had never experienced before —
a thrill at a woman's near presence.
"That's what I ask of a writer," she said, "that
he make me feel for his people as I felt for that
girl that night. Am I asking too much ? It need
not be for one who is enmeshed in tragedy — it
may be for one whose heart is as glad as a May
128 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
morning. But he must make me feel. And he
can't do that if he doesn't feel himself, can he ?"
William Hallowell Magee actually hung his
"He can't," he confessed softly. "You're quite
right. I like you immensely — more than I can
say. And even if you feel you can't trust me, I
want you to know that I'm on your side in what-
ever happens at Baldpate Inn. You have only to
ask, and I am your ally."
"Thank you," she answered. "I may be very
glad to ask. I shall remember." She rose and
moved toward the stairs. "We had better dis-
perse now. The rocking-chair fleet will get us
if we don't watch out." Her small slipper was on
the first step of the stair, when they heard a door
slammed shut, and the sound of steps on the bare
floor of the dining-room. Then a husky voice
Mr. Magee felt his hand grasped by a much
smaller one, and before he knew it he had been
hurried to the shadows of the landing. "The fifth
key," whispered a scared little voice in his ear.
And then he felt the faint brushing of finger-tips
THE SUMMER CROWD 129
across his lips. A mad desire seized him to grasp
those fingers and hold them on the lips they had
scarcely touched. But the impulse was lost in the
thrill of seeing the dining-room door thrown open
and a great bulk of a man cross the floor of the
office and stand beside Bland's chair. At his side
was a thin waif who had not unjustly been
termed the mayor of Reuton's shadow.
"Asleep," bellowed the big man. "How's this
for a watch-dog, Lou ?"
"Right on the job, ain't he?" sneered the thin
Mr. Bland started suddenly from slumber, and
looked up into the eyes of the newcomers.
"Hello, Cargan," he said. "Hello, Lou. For
the love of heaven, don't shout so. The place is
full of them."
"Full of what?" asked the mayor.
"Of spotters, maybe — I don't know what they
are. There's an old high-brow and a fresh young
guy, and two women."
"People," gasped the mayor. "People — here ?"
, "You're asleep. Bland.
130 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"No Fm not, Cargan/' cried the haberdasher.
"Look around for yourself. The inn's overrun
Cargan leaned weakly against a chair.
"Well, what do you know about that," he said.
"And they kept telling me Baldpate Inn was the
best place — say, this is one on Andy Rutter. Why
didn't you get it out and beat it?"
"How could I ?" Mr. Bland asked. "I haven't
got the combination. The safe was left open for
me. That was the agreement with Rutter."
"You might have phoned us not to come," re-
marked Lou, with an uneasy glance around.
Mr. Cargan hit the mantelpiece with his huge
"By heaven, no," he cried. "I'll lift it from
under their very noses. I've done it before — i
can do it now. I don't care who they are. They
can't touch me. They can't touch Jim Cargan. I
Mr. Magee, on the landing, whispered into his
companion's ear. "I think I'll go down and greet
our guests." He felt her grasp his arm suddenly,
as though in fear, but he shook off her hand and
debonairly descended to the group below.
THE SUMMER CROWD 131
Good evening, gentlemen," he said suavely.
Welcome to Baldpate! Please don't attempt to
explain — we're fed up on explanations now. You
have the fifth key, of course. Welcome to our
small but growing circle."
The big man advanced threateningly. Mr.
Magee saw that his face was very red, his neck
very thick, but his mouth a cute little cupid's bow
that might well have adorned a dainty baby in the
"Who are you?" bellowed the mayor of Reu-
ton in a tone meant to be cowering.
"I forget," replied Mr. Magee easily. *'Bland,
who am I to-day ? The cast-off lover of Arabella,
the fleeing artist, or the thief of portraits from a
New York millionaire's home ? Really, it doesn't
matter. We shift our stories from time to time.
As the first of the Baldpate hermits, however, it
is my duty to welcome you, which I hereby do."
The mayor pointed dramatically to the stair.
"I give you fifteen minutes," he roared, "to
pack up and get out. I don't want you here. Un-
To Cargan's side came the slinking figure of
Lou Max. His face was the withered yellow of
132 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
an old lemon; his garb suggested shop-windows
on dirty side streets; unpleasant eyes shifted be-
hind a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. His attitude
was that of the dog who crouches by its master.
Clear out," he snarled.
By no means," replied Magee, looking the
mayor squarely in the eye. *'I was here first.
I'm here to stay. Put me out, will you? Well,
perhaps, after a fight. But I'd be back in an hour,
and with me whatever police Upper Asquewan
Falls owns to."
He saw that the opposing force wavered at this.
''I want no trouble, gentlemen," he went pn.
"Believe me, I shall be happy to have your com-
pany to dinner. Your command that I withdraw
is ill-timed, not to say ill-natured and impolite.
Let us all forget it."
The mayor of Reuton turned away, and his
dog slid into the shadows.
"Have I your promise to stay to dinner?" went
on Magee. No answer came from the trio in the
dusk. "Silence gives consent," he added gaily.
"You must excuse me while I dress. Bland, will
you inform Mr. Peters that we are to have com-
THE SUMMER CROWD 133
pany to dinner ? Handle him gently. Emphasize
the fact that our guests are men."
He ran up the stairs. At the top of the second
flight he met the girl, and her eyes, he thought,
shone in the dark.
"Oh, I'm so glad," she whispered.
'*Glad of what?" asked Magee.
"That you are not on their side," she answered.
Mr. Magee paused at the door of number
"I should say not," he remarked. "Whatever
it's all about, I should say not. Put on your pret-
tiest gown, my lady. I've invited the mayor to
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL
ONE summer evening, in dim dead days gone
by, an inexperienced head waiter at Bald-
pate Inn had attempted to seat Mrs. J. San-
derson Clark, of Pittsburgh, at the same table
with the unassuming Smiths, of Tiffin, Ohio.
The remarks of Mrs. Clark, who was at
the time busily engaged in trying to
found a first family, lingered long in the
memory of those who heard them. So long, in
fact, that Miss Norton, standing with Mr. Magee
in the hotel office awaiting the signal from Peters
that dinner was ready, could repeat them almost
verbatim. Mr. Magee cast a humorous look
"Lucky the manners and customs of the sum-
mer folks aren't carried over into the winter," he
said. 'Imagine a Mrs. Clark asked to sit at table
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL 135
•• • -
with the mayor of Reuton and his picturesque but
somewhat soiled friend, Mr. Max. I hope the
dinner is a huge success."
' The girl laughed.
"The natural nervousness of a host," she re-
marked. *'Don't worry. The hermit and his tins
won't fail you."
"It's not the culinary end that worries me,"
smiled Magee. "It's the repartee and wit. I
want the mayor to feel at home. Do you know
any good stories ascribed to Congressman Jones,
of the Asquewan district?"
Together they strolled to a window. The snow
had begun to fall again, and the lights of the little
hamlet below showed but dimly through the white
"I want you to know," said the girl, "that I^
trust you now. And when the time comes, as it»
will soon — to-night — I am going to ask you to
help me. I may ask a rather big thing, and asK
you to do it blindly, just trusting in me, as I re-
fused to trust in you." She stopped and looked
vtry seriously into Mr. Magee's face.
Tm mighty glad," he answered in a low tone.
136 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"From the moment I saw you weeping in the sta-
tion I've wanted to be of help to you. The sta-
tion agent advised me not to interfere. He said
to become involved with a weeping woman meant
trouble. The fool. As though any trouble — "
"He was right," put in the girl, "it probably
will mean trouble."
"As though any storm," finished Mr. Magee
"would not be worth the rainbow of your smile
at the end."
"A very fancy figure," laughed she. "But
storms aren't nice."
"There are a few of us," replied Magee, "who
can be merry through the worst of them because
of the rainbow to come."
For answer, she flattened her finely-modeled
nose into shapelessness against the cold pane.
Back of them in the candle-lighted room, tho mot-
ley crew of Baldpate's winter guests stood about
in various attitudes of waiting. In front of the
fire the holder of the Chair of Comparative Lit-
erature quoted poetry to Mrs. Norton, and proba-
bly it never occurred to the old man that the wom-
an to whom he talked was that nightmare of his
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL 137
life — a peroxide blonde. Ten feet away in the
flickering half-light, the immense bulk of the
mayor of Reuton reposed on the arm of a leather
couch, and before him stood his lithe unpleasant
companion, Lou Max, side by side with Mr.
Bland, whose talk of haberdashery was forever
stilled. The candles sputtered, the storm angrily
rattled the windows ; Mr. Peters flitted like a hairy
wraith about the table. So the strange game that
was being played at Baldpate Inn followed the
example of good digestion and waited on appe-
What Mr. Magee flippantly termed his dinner
party was seated at last, and there began a meal
destined to linger long in the memories of those
'who partook if it. Puzzled beyond words, the
'host took stock of his guests. Opposite him, at
the foot of the table, he could see the lined tired
'face of Mrs. Norton, dazed, uncomprehending, a
little frightened. At his right the great red acre-
age of Cargan's face held defiance and some
amusement; beside it sneered the cruel face of
Max; beyond that Mr. Bland's countenance told a
story of worry and impotent anger. And on Mr.
138 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Magee's left sat the professor, bearded, specta-
cled, calm, seemingly undisturbed by this queer
flurry of events, beside the fair girl of the station
who trusted Magee at last. In the first few mo- 1
ments of silence Mr. Magee compared her deli-
cate features with the coarse knowing face of the
woman at the table's foot, and inwardly answered
Without the genial complement of talk the din-
ner began. Mr. Peters appeared with another
variety of his canned soup, whereupon the silence
was broken by the gastronomic endeavors of Mr.
Max and the mayor. Mr. Magee was reflecting
that conversation must be encouraged, when Car-
gan suddenly spoke.
"I hope I ain't putting you folks out none," he
remarked with obvious sarcasm. "It ain't my
habit to drop in unexpected like this. But busi-
ness — "
"We're delighted, I'm sure," said Mr. Magee
"I suppose you want to know why I'm here,"
the mayor went on. "Well — ■' he hesitated — •
"it's like this—"
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL 139
"Dear Mr. Cargan/' Magee broke in, "spare us,
I pray. And spare yourself. We have had ex-
planations until we are weary. We have decided
to drop them altogether, and just to take it for
granted that, in the words of the song, we're here
because we're here."
"All right," replied Cargan, evidently relieved.
"That suits me. I'm tired explaining, anyhow.
There's a bunch of reformers rose up lately in
Reuton — maybe you've heard about 'em. A lovely
bunch. A white necktie and a half-portion of
brains apiece. They say they're going to do for
me at the next election."
Mr. Max laughed harshly from the vicinity of
"They wrote the first joke book, them people,"
I "Well," went on Cargan, "there ain't nobody so
insignificant and piffling that people won't listen
to 'em when they attack a man in public life. So
I've had to reply to this comic opera bunch, and
as I say, I'm about wore out explaining. I've had
to explain that I never stole the town I used to
live in In Indiana, and that I didn't stick up my
140 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
father with a knife. It gets monotonous. So I'm
much obliged to you for passing the explanations
up. We won't bother you long, me and Lou. I
got a little business here, and then we'll mosey
along. We'll clear out about nine o'clock."
*'No," protested Magee. *'So soon ? We must
make it pleasant for you while you stay. I al-
ways hate hosts who talk about their servants —
I have a friend who bores me to death because he
has a Jap butler he believes was at Mukden. But
I think I am justified in calling your attention to
ours — Mr. Peters, the Hermit of Baldpate Moun-
tain. Cooking is merely his avocation. He is
writing a book."
"That guy," remarked Cargan, incredulous.
"What do you know about that?" asked Mr.
Bland. "It certainly will get a lot of hot adver-
tising if it ever appears. It's meant to prove that
all the trouble in the world has been caused by
The mayor considered.
"He's off— he's nutty, that fellow," he an-
nounced. "It ain't women that cause all of the
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL 141
**Thank you, Mr. Cargan," said Miss Norton,
"Anybody'd know it to look at you, miss," re-
plied the mayor in his most gallant manner. Then
he added hastily: ''And you, ma'am," with a
nod in the other woman's direction.
"I don't know as I got the evidence in my
face," responded Mrs. Norton easily, "but women
don't make no trouble, I know that. I think the
man's crazy^ myself, and I'd tell him so if he
wasn't the cook." She paused, for Peters had
entered the room. There was silence while he
changed the courses. "It's getting so now you
can't say the things to a cook you can to a king,"
she finished, after the hermit had retired.
"Ahem — Mr. Cargan," put in Professor Bol-
ton, "you give it as your opinion that woman is no
trouble-maker, and I must admit that I agree with
your premise in general, although occasionally she
may cause a — a slight annoyance. Undeniably,
there is a lot of trouble in the world. To whose
efforts do you ascribe it?"
The mayor ran his thick fingers through his
142 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
**I got you," he said, "and I got your answer,
too. Who makes the trouble? Who's made it
from the beginning of time? The reformers, Doc.
Yes, sir. Who was the first reformer? The snake
in the garden of Eden. This hermit guy proba-
bly has that affair laid down at woman's door.
Not much. Everything was running all right
around the garden, and then the snake came along.
It's a twenty to one shot he'd just finished a series
of articles on The Shame of Eden' for a maga-
zine. *What d'ye mean?' he says to the woman,
'by letting well enough alone? Things are all
wrong here. The present administration is run-
ning everything into the ground. I can tell you a
few things that will open your eyes. What's that?
What you don't know won't hurt you ? The old
cry', he says, *the old cry against which progres-
sives got to fight,"' he says. 'Wake up. You need
a change here. Try this nice red apple, and you'll
see things the way I do.' And the woman fell for
it. You know what happened."
"An original point of view," said the dazed
"Yes, Doc," went on Mr. Cargan, evidently on
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL 143'
a favorite topic, "it's the reformers that have
caused all the trouble, from that snake down.
Things are running smooth, folks all prosperous
and satisfied — then they come along in their gum',
shoes and white neckties. And they knock away
at the existing order until the public begins to be-
lieve 'em and gives 'em a chance to run things.
What's the result ? The world's in a worse tangle
than ever before."
"You feel deeply on the subject, Mr . /argan,"
"I ought to," the mayor replied. "I ain't no
writer, but if I was, I'd turn out a book that
would drive this whiskered hermit's argument to
the wall. Woman — ^bah! The only way women
make trouble is by falling for the reform gag."
Mr. Peters here interrupted with the dessert,
|and through that course Mr. Cargan elaborated
on his theory. He pointed out how, in many
states, reform had interrupted the smooth flow of
life, set everything awhirl, and cruelly sent "the
boys" who had always been faithful out into the
cold world seeking the stranger, work. While he
talked, the eyes of Lou Max looked out at him
144 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
from behind the incongruous gold-rimmed glass-
es, with the devotion of the dog to its master
clearly written in them. Mr. Magee had read
many articles about this picturesque Cargan who
had fought his way with his fists to the position
of practical dictator in the city of Reuton. The
story was seldom told without a mention of his
man Max — ^Lou Max who kept the south end
of Reuton in line for the mayor, and in that low
neighborhood of dives and squalor made Car-
gan's a name to conjure with. Watching him
now, Mr. Magee marveled at this cheap crea-
ture's evident capacity for loyalty.
"It was the reformers got Napoleon," the
mayor finished. "Yes, they sent Napoleon to an
island at the end. And him without an equal
since the world began."
*Ts your — begging your pardon — is your his-
tory just straight?" demurred Professor Bolton
"Is it?" frowned Cargan. "You can bet it is. I
know Napoleon from the cradle to the grave. I
ain't an educated man, Doc — I can hire all the
THE MAYOR £>iiGINS A VIGIL 145
educated men I want for eighteen dollars a week
— but I'm up on Bonaparte."
"It seems to me," Miss Norton put in, "I have
heard — did I read it in a paper? — ^that a picture
of Napoleon hangs above your desk. They say
that you see in your own career, a similarity to
his. May I ask — is it true ?"
"No, miss," replied Cargan. "That's a joking
story some newspaper guy wrote up. It ain't got
no more truth in it than most newspaper yarns.
No, I ain't no Napoleon. There's lots of differ-
ences between us — one in particular." He raised
his voice, and glared at the company around the
table. "One in particular. The reformers got
Napoleon at the end."
"But the end is not yet," suggested Mr. Magee,
Mr. Cargan gave him a sudden and interested
'] "I ain't worrying," he replied. "And don't
you, young fellow."
Mr. Magee responded that he was not one to
indulge in needless worry, and a silence fell upon
146 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
the group. Peters entered with coffee, and was
engaged in pouring it when Mr. Bland started up
wildly from the table with an expression of alarm
on his face.
"What's that ?" he cried.
The others looked at him in wonder.
"I heard steps up-stairs," he declared.
"Nonsense," said Mr. Cargan, "you're dream-
ing. This peace and quiet has got to you, Bland."
Without replying, Mr. Bland rose and ran up
the stair. In his absence the Hermit of Baldpate
spoke into Magee's ear.
"I ain't one to complain," he said ; "livin' alone
as much as I do I've sort of got out of the habit,
having nobody to complain to. But if folks keep
coming and coming to this hotel, I've got to re-
Isign as cook. Seems as though every few min-
utes there's a new face at the table, and it's a
vital matter to me."
"Cheer up, Peters," whispered Mr. Magee.
"There are only two more keys to the inn. There
will be a limit to our guests."
"What I'm getting at is," replied Mr. Peters,
"there's a limit to my endurance."
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL 147
Mr. Bland came down-stairs. His face was
very pale as he took his seat, but in reply to Car-
,gan's question he remarked that he must have
"It was the wind, I guess," he said.
The mayor made facetious comment on Mr.
Bland's "skittishness", and Mr. Max also in-
dulged in a gibe or two. These the haberdasher
met with a wan smile. So the dinner came to an
end, and the guests of Baldpate sat about while
Mr. Peters removed all traces of it from the table.
Mr. Magee sought to talk to Miss Norton, but
found her nervous and distrait.
"Has Mr. Bland frightened you?" he asked.
She shook her head. "I have other things to
think of," she replied.
Mr. Peters shortly bade the company good-by
for the night, with the warmly expressed hope in
Mr. Magee's ear that there would be no further
additions to the circle in the near future. When
he had started off through the snow for his shack,
Mr. Cargan took out his watch.
"You've been pretty kind to us poor wanderers
already," he said. "I got one more favor to ask.
148 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
I come up here to see Mr. Bland. We got some
business to transact, and we'd consider it a great
kindness if you was to leave us alone here in the
Mr. Magee hesitated. He saw the girl nod her
iiead slightly, and move toward the stairs.
"Certainly, if you wish,'' he said. "I hope you
won't go without saying good-by, Mr. Cargan."
"That all depends," replied the mayor. "I've
enjoyed knowing you, one and all. Good night."
The women, the professor and Mr. Magee
moved up the broad stairway. On the landing
Mr. Magee heard the voice of Mrs. Norton, some-
where in the darkness ahead.
"I'm worried, dearie — real worried."
"Hush," came the girl's voice. "Mr. Magee —
we'll meet again — soon."
Mr. Magee seized the professor's arm, and to-
gether they stood in the shadows. .
"I don't like the looks of things," came Bland's
hoarse complaint from below. "What time is it?"
"Seven-thirty," Cargan answered. "A good
"There was somebody on the second floor when
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL 149
I went up," Bland continued. "I saw him run
into one of the rooms and lock the door.'*
''I've got charge now," the mayor reassured
him, "don't you worry."
''There's something doing." This seemed to be
"There sure is," laughed Cargan. *'But what
do I care? I own young Drayton. I put him
where he is. I ain't afraid. Let them gumshoe
round as much as they want to. They can't touch
Maybe not," said Bland. "But Baldpate Inn
ain't the grand idea it looked at first, is it?"
"It's a hell of an idea," answered Cargan.
"There wasn't any need of all this folderol. I
told Hayden so. Does that phone ring?"
"No — it'll just flash a light, when they want
us," Bland told him.
Mr. Magee and Professor Bolton continued
softly up the stairs, and in answer to the former's
invitation, the old man entered number seven and
took a chair by the fire.
"It is an amazing tangle," he remarked, "in
which we are involved. I have no idea what your
150 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
place IS in the scheme of things up here. But I as-
sume you grasp what is going on, if I do not. I
am not so keen of wit as I once was."
*'If you think," answered Mr. Magee, proffering
a cigar, "that I am in on this Httle game of *Who's
Who', then you are vastly mistaken. As a matter
of fact, I am as much in the dark as you are."
The professor smiled.
"Indeed," he said in a tone that showed his un-
He was deep in a discussion of the meters of
the poet Chaucer when there came a knock at the
door, and Mr. Lou Max's unpleasant head was
"I been assigned," he said, "to sit up here in the
hall and keep an eye out for the ghost Bland
heard tramping about. And being of a sociable
nature, I'd like to sit in your doorway, if you
"By all means," replied Magee. "Here's a
chair. Do you smoke ?"
"Thanks." Mr. Max placed the chair sidewise
in the doorway of number seven, and sat down.
From his place he commanded a view of Mr. Ma-
THE MAYOR BEGINS A VIGIL 151
gee's apartments and of the head of the stairs.
With his yellow teeth he viciously bit the end
from the cigar. "Don't let me interrupt the con-
versation, gentlemen," he pleaded.
"We were speaking," said the professor calm-
ly, "of the versification of Chaucer. Mr. Ala-
He continued his discussion in an even voice.
Mr. Magee leaned back in his chair and smiled in
a pleased way at the settings of the stage: Mr.
Max in a cloud of smoke on guard at his door; the
mayor and Mr. Bland keeping vigil by a telephone
switchboard in the office below, watching for the
flash of light that should tell them some one in the
outside world wanted to speak to Baldpate Inn;
a mysterious figure who flitted about in the dark ;
a beautiful girl who was going to ask Mr. Magee
to do her a service, blindly trusting her.
The professor droned on monotonously. Once
Mr. Magee interrupted to engage Lou Max in
spirited conversation. For, through the squares
. of light outside the windows, he had seen the girl
of the station pass hurriedly down the balcony,
the snowflakes falling white on her yellow hair. ^
MR. MAX TELLS A TALE OF SUSPICION
AN hour passed. Mr. Max admitted when
^ pressed that a good cigar soothed the
soul, and accepted another from Magee's stock.
The professor continued to talk. Obviously it
was his favorite diversion. He seemed to be quot-
ing from addresses; Mr. Magee pictured him on
a Chautauqua platform, the white water pitcher
by his side.
As he talked, Mr. Magee studied that portion
of his delicate scholarly face that the beard left
exposed to the world. What part had Thaddeus
Bolton, holder of the Crandall Chair of Compara-
tive Literature, in this network of odd alarms?
Why was he at Baldpate? And why was he so
little moved by the rapid changes in the make-up
of the inn colony — changes that left Mr. Magee
gasping? He took them as calmly as he would
A TALE OF SUSPICION 153
take his grapefruit at the breakfast-table. Only
that morning Mr. Magee, by way of experiment,
had fastened upon him the suspicion of murder,
and the old man had not flickered an eyelash. Not
the least strange of all the strange figures that
floated about Baldpate, Mr. Magee reflected^ was
this man who fiddled now with Chaucer while,
metaphorically, Rome burned. He could not make
Mr. Max inserted a loud yawn into the profes-
*'Once I played chess with a German," he said,
*'and another time I went to a lecture on purifying
politics, but I never struck anything so monoto-
nous as this job I got now."
"So sorry," replied Magee, "that our company;
"No offense," remarked the yellow-faced one.
"I was just thinking as I set here how it all comes
of people being suspicious of one another. Now
I've always held that the world would be a better
place if there wasn't no suspicion in it. Nine times
out of ten the suspicion ain't got a leg to stand
on — if suspicion can be said to have a leg."
154 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Evidently Mr. Max desired the floor ; gracious-
ly Professor Bolton conceded it to him.
**Speaking of suspicion/' continued the drab
little man on the threshold, turning his cigar
thoughtfully between his thin lips, "reminds me
of a case told me by Pueblo Sam, a few years ago.
In some ways it's real funny, and in others it's
sad as hell. Pueblo Sam was called in them terms
because he'd never been west of Sixth Avenue.
He was a swell refined gentleman who lived by
his wits, and he had considerable."
"A confidence man," suggested Magee.
"Something along that order," admitted Mr.
Max, "but a good sport among his friends, you
understand. Well, this case of suspicion Sam tells
me about happened something like this. One
scorching hot day in summer Sam gets aboard
the Coney boat, his idea being to put all business
cares away for an hour or two, and just float calm
and peaceful down the bay, and cool off. So he
grabs out a camp chair and hustles through the
crowd up to the top deck, beside the pilot's hang-
out, and sits down to get acquainted with the
breeze, if such there was.
A TALE OF SUSPICION 155
"Well, he'd been sitting there about ten min-
utes, Sam tells me, when along came about the
easiest picking that ever got loose from the old
homestead — "
"I beg your pardon," protested Professor Bol-
"The ready money, the loosened kale, the posies
in the garden waiting to be plucked," elucidated
Mr. Max. "This guy, Sam says, was such a per-
fect rube he just naturally looked past him to see
if there was a trail of wisps of hay on the floor.
For a while Sam sits there with a grouch as he
thought how hard it was to put business aside and
get a little rest now and then, and debating
whether, being on a vacation, as it was, he'd exert
himself enough to stretch forth his hand and take
whatever money the guy had. While he was argu-^
ing the matter with himself, the jay settled the
question by coming over and sitting down near
"He's in the city, he tells Sam, to enjoy the
moving pictures of the streets, and otherwise for-
get the trees back home that grow the cherries in
the bottom pf the cocktail glasses. *And believe
156 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
me/ he says to Sam, 'there ain't none of tht>se
confidence men going to get me. I'm too wise,' he
" I'll bet money you are/ Sam tells him laugh-
ing all over at the fish that was fighting to g^t into
" 'Yes, siree/ says the last of the Mohicans,
'they can't fool me. I can tell them as fur away
as I can see 'em, and my eyesight's perfect. One
of 'em comes up to me in City Hall park and tries
to sell me some mining stock. I guess he ain't re-
covered yet from what I said to him. I tell yotu
they can't fool Mark Dennen,' says the guy.
"Sam told me that at them words he just leaned
back in his seat and stared at the jay and whistled
under his breath. Years ago, it seemed, Sam had
lived in the town of Readsboro, Vermont, and run
up and down the streets with one suspender and a
stone bruise, and the kid that had run with him
was Mark Dennen. And Sam says he looked at
this guy from the woods that was running round
crying to high heaven he needed a guardian, and
he sees that sure enough it was the tow-head Mark
Dennen and — Sam told me — something seemed
A TALE OF SUSPICION 157
lo bust inside him, and he wanted to stretch out
his arms and hug this guy.
" *Mark Dennen/ shouts Sam, 'as I live. Of
Readsboro, Vermont. The kid I used to play with'
under the arc Hghts — don't you remember me?'"
"But Sam says the guy just looked him straight
in the eye, and shut his jaw, and says : T suppose
you'll be asking after my brother George next?'
" *You ain't got any brother George, you idiot,'
laughs Sam. He told me he was thinking how
he'd treat his old friend Mark to a dinner that
would go down in history in Readsboro. 'Mark,
you pld rascal,' he says, 'don't you remember me
— don't you remember little Sam Burns that used
to play andy-over with you, and that stole your
girl in 1892 ? Don't you remember the old days in
Readsboro ?' He was all het up by this time, Sam
tells me, and all the old m.emories came creeping
back, and he kept thinking he never was so glad
to run across anybody in his life. *You remember
little Sam Burns, don't you?' he asks once more.
"But this guy just looks back into Sam's eye,
with his own cold as steel, and he says, says he :
*You're pretty clever, mister, but you don't fool
158 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
me. No, you don't come any games on Mark
, " 'But, Mark,' says Sam, 'I swear to you by all
that's holy that I'm that kid — I'm Sam Burns.
What proof do you want ? Do you remember old
Ed Haywood that used to keep the drug store
right across from the post-office? The guy that
never washed his windows ? I do. And Miss Hunt-
er that taught the sixth grade school when we went
there — a little woman with washed-out gray eyes
and a broken front tooth ? And that pretty little
girl, Sarah somebody — wait a minute, I'll get it or
bust — Sarah — Sarah — Sarah Scott, you used to
be so sweet on ? Did you marry her, Mark ? And
old Lafe Perkins, who used to be on hand when-
ever there was any repairs being made anywhere
I — rheumatism and a cane and a high squeaky
'voice that he used to exercise giving orders about
things that wasn't any of his business. Why,
Mark, I remember 'em all. Good lord, man,' says
Sam, *do you want any more proof?'
"But this country blockhead just looked Sam
up and down, and remarks judicious: Tt's cer-
tainly wonderful how you know all these things.
A TALE OF SUSPICION 159
^Wonderful. But you can't fool me/ he says, 'yoi^
can't fool Mark Dennen.' "
Mr. Max paused in his narrative for a moment.
The sound of voices came up from the office of
Baldpate Inn. One, that of the mayor, boomed
loudly and angrily. In an evident desire to drown
it, Mr. Max went on with spirit :
"Well, gentlemen, it got to be a point of honor,
as you might say, for Sam to convince that guy.
He told me he never wanted anything so much in
his life as for Mark Dennen to give in. It was a
hot afternoon, and he'd come aboard that boat for
a rest, but he peeled off his collar and started in.
He gave Mark Dennen the number of bricks in
the Methodist Church, as reported in the Reads-
boro Citizen at the time it was built. He told him
the name pf the piece Mark's sister recited at the
school entertainment in the spring of 1890. He
bounded on all four sides the lot where the cir-
cuses played when they came to Readsboro. He
named every citizen of the town, living or dead,
that ever got to be known outside his own family,
and he brought children into the world and mar-
ried them and read the funeral service pver tliem,
i6o SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
and still that bonehead from the woods sat there,
his mouth open, and says: *It's beyond me how
you know all that. You New Yorkers are slicker
then I give ye credit for. But you can*t fool me.
You ain't Sam Burns. Why, I went to school
"They was drawing near Coney now," went on
Mr. Max, "and Sam's face was purple and he was
dripping with perspiration, and rattling off Reads-
boro happenings at the rate of ten a second, but
that Mark Dennen he sat there and wouldn't
budge from his high horse. So they came up to
the pier, Sam almost weeping real tears and plead-
ing like his heart would break : *Mark, don't you
remember that time we threw little Bill Barnaby
into the swimming hole, and he couldn't swim a
stroke and nearly drowned on us?' and still get-
ting the stony face from his old pal.
"And on the pier this Dennen held out his hand
to Sam, who was a physical wreck and a broken
man by this time, and says : *You sure are cute,
mister. I'll have great times telling this in Reads-
boro. Once you met one too smart for ye, eh?
Much obliged for your company, anyhow !' And
A TALE OF SUSPICION i6i
he went away and left Sam leaning against the
railing, with no faith in human nature no more.
*I hope somebody got to him/ says Sam to me,
'and got to him good. He's the kind that if you
work right you can sell stock in a company for
starting roof gardens on the tops of the pyramids
in Egypt. I'd trimmed him myself,' says Sam to
me, 'but I hadn't the heart.' "
Mr. Max finished, and again from below came
the sound of voices raised in anger.
"An interesting story, Mr. Max," commented
Professor Bolton. "I shall treasure it."
"Told with a remarkable feeling for detail,""
added Mr. Magee. "In fact, it seems to me that
only one of the two participants in it could re-
member all the fine points so well. Mr. Max, you
don't exactly look like Mark Dennen to me, there-
fore — if you will pardon the liberty — "
"I get you," replied Max sadly. "The same old
story. Suspicion — suspicion everywhere. It does
a lot of harm, believe me. I wouldn't — "
He jumped from his chair and disappeared, for
the voice of Cargan had hailed him from below.
Mr. Magee and the professor with one accord f ol-
162 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
lowed. Hiding in the friendly shadows of the
landing once again, the}?" heard the loud tones of
the mayor's booming voice, and the softer tones
*'How about this ?" bellowed the mayor. "Hay-
den's squealed. Phones to Bland — -not to me.
Whines about the courts — I don't know what rot.
He's squealed. He didn't phone the combination."
"The rat !" screamed Mr. Max.
"By the Lord Harry," said the mayor, "I'll
have it open, anyhow. I've earned what's in
there, fair and — I've earned it. I'm going to
have it. Max."
"See here, Cargan — " put in Mr. Bland.
"Keep out of the way, you," cried Cargan.
"And put away that pop-gun before you get hurt.
I'm going to have what's mine by justice. That
safe comes open to-night. Max, get your satchel."
Mr. Magee and the professor turned and as-
cended to the second floor. In front of number
seven they paused and looked into each other's
eyes. Professor Bolton shrugged his shoulders.
"I'm going to bed," he said, "and I advise you
to do the same."
A TALE OF SUSPICION 163
"Yes," replied Mr. Magee, but had no idea
what he had said. As for the old man's advice,
he had no intention pf taking it. Melodrama — -
the thing he had come to Baldpate Inn to forget
forever — raged through that home of solitude.
Men spoke of guns, and swore, and threatened.
What was it all about ? And what part could he
play in it all ?
He entered number seven, and paused in amaze-
ment. Outside one of his windows Miss Norton
stood, rapping on the glass for him to open. When
he stood facing her at last, the window no longer
between, he saw that her face was very pale and
that her chin trembled as it had in the station.
What is it?" cried Magee.
'I mustn't come in," she answered. "Listen.
You said you wanted to help me. You can do so
now. I'll explain everything later — this is all I
need tell you just at present. Down-stairs in the
safe there's a package containing two hundred
thousand dollars. Do you hear — two hundred
thousand. I must have that package. Don't
ask me why. I came here to get it — I must
have it. The combination was to have been
1 64 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
phoned to Cargan at eight o'clock. I was hiding
outside the window. Something went wrong —
they didn't phone it. He's going to open the safe
by force. I heard him say so. I couldn't wait to
hear more — I saw him."
. "Who?" asked Mr. Magee.
"I don't know — a tall black figure — hiding out-
side a window like myself. The man with one of
the other keys, I suppose. The man Mr. Bland
heard walking about to-night. I saw him and I
was terribly frightened. It's all right when you
know who the other fellow is, but when — ^it's all
so creepy — I was afraid. So I ran — here."
"The thing to do," approved Mr. Magee.
"Don't worry. I'll get the money for you. I'll
get it if I have to slay the city administration of
Reuton in its tracks."
"You trust me?" asked the girl, with a little
catch in her voice. The snow lay white on her
hair; even in the shadows her eyes suggested
June skies. "Without knowing who I am, or
why I must have this money — ^you'll get it for
"Some people," said Mr. Magee, "meet all their
A TALE OF SUSPICION 165
lives long at pink little teas, and never know one
another, while others just smile at each other
across a station waiting-room — that's enough."
"Fm so glad," whispered the girl. "I never
dreamed I'd meet any one like you — up here.
Please, oh, please, be very careful. Neither Car-
gan nor Max is armed. Bland is. I should never
forgive myself if you were hurt. But you won't
be — will you?"
"I may catch cold," laughed Mr. Magee ; "oth-
erwise I'll be perfectly safe." He went into the
room and put on a gay plaid cap. "Makes me
look like Sherlock Holmes," he smiled at the girl
framed in the window. When he turned to his
door to lock it, he discovered that the key was
gone and that it had been locked on the outside.
"Oh, very well," he said flippantly. He buttoned
his coat to the chin, blew out the candles in num-
ber seven, and joined the girl on the balcony.
"Go to your room," he said gently. "Your
worries are over. I'll bring you the golden fleece
inside an hour."
"Be careful," she whispered. "Be very care-
ful, Mr.— Billy."
1 66 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Just for that/' cried Magee gaily, "I'll get
you four hundred thousand dollars."
He ran to the end of the balcony, and dropping
softly to the ground, was ready for his first ex-
periment in the gentle art of highway robbery.
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW
HE justly celebrated moon that in summer
months shed so much glamour on the ro-
mances of Baldpate Inn was no where in evidence
as Mr. Magee crept along the ground close to the
veranda. The snow sifted down upon him out
of the blackness above; three feet ahead the
world seemed to end.
A corking night," he muttered humorously,
for my debut in the hold-up business."
He swung up over the rail on to the veranda,
and walked softly along it until he came to a win-
dow opening into the office. Cautiously he peered
in. The vast lonely room was lighted by a single
candle. At the foot of the broad stair he could
discern a great bulk, seated on the lowest stepr,
which he correctly took to be the mayor of Reu-
ton. Back of the desk, on which stood the candle,
Mr. Max's head and shoulders were visible. He
1 68 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
was working industriously in the immediate vicin-
ity of the safe door. Occasionally he consulted
the small traveling-bag that stood on the desk.
Many other professions had claimed Mr. Max be-
fore his advent into Reuton politics ; evidently he
was putting into operation the training acquired
in one of them. Mr. Eland was nowhere in sight.
Shivering with cold and excitement, Mr. Magee
leaned against the side of Baldpate Inn and
waited. Mr. Max worked eagerly, turning fre-
quently to his bag as a physician might turn
to his medicine-case. No word was spoken in the
office. Minutes passed. The bulk at the foot of
the stairs surged restlessly. Mr. Max's opera-
tions were mostly hidden by the desk at which,
in summer, timid old ladles inquired for their
mail. Having time to think, Mr. Magee pictured
the horror of those ladies could they come up to
the desk at Baldpate now.
Suddenly Mr. Max ran out into the center of
the office. Almost on the instant there was a
white puff of smoke and a roar. The inn seemed
about to roll down the mountain after all those
years of sticking tight. The mayor looked appre-
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW 1B9
hensively up the stair behind him ; Mr. Max ran
to the open safe door and came back before thg
desk with a package in his hand. After examin-
ing it hastily, Mr. Cargan placed the loot in his
pocket. The greedy eyes of Max followed it for
a second; then he ran over and gathered up his
tools. Now they Vv^ere ready to depart. The
mayor lifted the candle from the desk. Its light
fell on a big chair by the fire, and Mr. Magee saw
in that chair the figure of Mr. Bland, bound and
Mr. Cargan and his companion paused, and ap-
peared to address triumphant and jesting com-
ment in Mr. Bland's direction. Then they but-
toned their coats and, holding aloft the candle,
disappeared through the dining-room door.
'T must have that package." Standing on the
balcony of Baldpate Inn, her yellow hair white
Avith snow, her eyes shining even in shadow, thus
had the lady of this weird drama spoken to Mn
Magee. And gladly he had undertaken the quest.
Now, he knew, the moment had come to act. Max
he could quickly dispose pf, he felt; Cargan
would require time and attention.
170 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
He hurried round to the front door of the inn,
and taking the big key from his pocket, unlocked
it as a means of retreat where the men he was
about to attack could not follow. Already he
heard their muffled steps in the distance. Cross-
ing the veranda, he dropped down into the snow
by the side of the great stone steps that led to
Baldpate Inn's chief entrance.
He heard Cargan and Max on the veranda
just above his head. They were speaking of trains
to Reuton. In great good humor, evidently, they
started down the steps. Mr. Magee crouched, re-
solved that he would spring the moment they
reached the ground. They were on the last step —
Suddenly from the other side of the steps a
black figure rose, a fist shot out, and Mr. Max
went spinning like a whirling dervish down the
snowy path, to land in a heap five feet away. The
next instant the mayor of Reuton and the black
figure were locked in terrific conflict. Mr. Magee,
astounded by this turn of affairs, could only stand
and stare through the dark.
For fifteen seconds, muttering, slipping, grap-
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW 171
pllng, the two figures waltzed grotesquely about
in the falling snow. Then the mayor's feet slid
from under him on the treacherous white carpet,
and the two went down together. As Mr. Magee
swooped down upon them he saw the hand of the
stranger find the mayor's pocket, and draw from
it the package that had been placed there in the
office a few moments before.
Unfortunately for the demands of the drama in
which he had become involved, Mr. Magee had
never been an athlete at the university. But he
was a young man of average strength and agility,
and he had the advantage of landing most unex-
pectedly on his antagonist. Before that gentle-
man realized what had happened, Magee had
wrenched the package from his hand, thrown him
back on the prostrate form of the highest official
pf Reuton, and fled up the steps. Quickly the
stranger regained his feet and started in pursuit,
but he arrived at the great front door of Baldpate
Inn just in time to hear the lock cHck inside.
Safe for the moment behind a locked door, Mr.
Magee paused to get his breath. The glory of
battle filled his soul. It was not until long after-
172 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
ward that he realized the battle had been a mere
scuffle in the dark. He felt his cheeks burn with
excitement like a sweet girl graduate's — the
cheeks of a man who had always prided himself
he was the unmoved cynic in any situation.
With no thought for Mr. Bland, bound in his
uneasy chair, Mr. Magee hurried up the broad
staircase of Baldpete. Now came the most gor-
geous scene of all. A fair-haired lady; a knight
she had sent forth to battle ; the knight returned.
"You asked me to bring you this, my lady." Busi-
ness of surprise and joy on the lady's part — busi-
ness also, perhaps, of adoration for the knight.
At the right of the stairs lay seventeen and the
lady, at the left a supposedly uninhabited land.
As Mr. Magee reached the second floor, blithely
picturing the scene in which he was to play so sat-
isfactory a part — he paused. For half-way down
the corridor to the left an open door threw a faint
light into the hall, and in that light stood a woman
he had never seen before. In this order came Mr.
Magee's impressions of her, fur-coated, tall, dark,
handsome, with the haughty manner of one en-
gaging a chauffeur.
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW 173
"I beg your pardon," she said, "but are you by
any chance Mr. Magee ?"
The knight leaned weakly against the wall, and
tried to think.
"I — I am," he managed to say.
"I'm so glad I've found you," replied the girl
It seemed to the dazed Magee that her dark eyes
were not overly happy. *T can not ask you in, I'm
afraid. I do not know the custom on such an oc-
casion — does anybody ? I am alone with my maid.
Hal Bentley, when I wrote to him for a key to
this place, told me of your being here, and said
that I was to put myself under your protection."
Mr. Magee arranged a bow, most of which was
lost in the dark.
"Delighted, I'm sure," he murmured.
"I shall try not to impose on you," she went on.
"The whole affair Is so unusual as to be almost
absurd. But Mr. Bentley said that you were —
very kind. He said I might trust you. I am in
great trouble. I have come here to get something
< — and I haven't the least idea how to proceed. I
came because I must have it — so much depends
174 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Prophetically Mr. Magee clutched in his pocket
the package for which he had done battle.
"I may be too late." The girl's eyes grew wide.
"That would be terribly unfortunate. I do not
wish you to be injured serving me — " She low-
ered her voice. "But if there is any way in which
you can help me in — in this difficulty — I can
never be grateful enough. Down-stairs in the safe
there is, I believe, a package containing a large
sum of money."
Mr. Magee's hand closed convulsively in his
"If there is any way possible," said the girl, "I
must obtain that package. I give you my word I
have as much right to it as any one who will ap-
pear at the inn. The honor and happiness of one
who is very dear to me is involved. I ask you —
made bold as I am by my desperation and Hal
Bentley's assurances — ^to aid me if you find you
With the eyes of a man in a dream Mr. Magee
looked into the face of the latest comer to Bald-
"Hal Bently is an old friend and a bully chap,"
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW 175
he said. "It will be a great pleasure to serve a
friend of his." He paused, congratulating him-
self that these were words, idle words. "When
did you arrive, may I ask?"
"I believe you were having dinner when I
came," she answered. "Mr. Bentley gave me a
key to the kitchen door, and we found a back
stairway. There seemed to be a company below
— I wanted to see only you."
"I repeat," said Mr. Magee, "I shall be happy
to help you, if I can." His word to another lady,
he reflected, was binding. "I suggest that there
is no harm in waiting until morning."
"But — I am afraid it was to-night — " she be-
"I understand," Magee replied. "The plans
went wrong. You may safely let your worries
rest until to-morrow." He was on the point of
adding something about relying on him, but re-
membered in time which girl he was addressing.,
"Is there anything I can do to make you more
The girl drew the fur coat closer about her
shoulders. She suggested to Magee a sheltered
176 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
luxurious life — ^he could see her regaling young
men with tea before a fireplace in a beautiful
room — insipid tea in thimble-like cups.
"You are very kind," she said. "I hardly ex-
pected to be here the night through. It is rather
cold, but I am sure we have rugs and coats
Mr. Magee's duty was clear.
"I'll build you a fire," he announced. The girl
seemed distressed at the thought.
"No, I couldn't let you," she said. "I am sure
it isn't necessary. I will say good night now."
'Good night. If there is anything I can do — "
'I shall tell you," she finished, smiling. "I be-
lieve I forgot to give you my name. I am Myra
Thornhill, of Reuton. Until to-morrow." She
went in and closed the door.
Mr. Magee sat limply down on the cold stair.
All the glory was gone from the scene he had pic-
tured a moment ago. He had the m.oney, yes, the
.money procured in valiant battle, but at the mo-
ment he bore the prize to his lady, another ap-
peared from the dark to claim it. What should
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW 177
He got up and started for number seventeen.
The girl who waited there was very charming and
attractive — but what did he know about her?
What did she want with this money ? He paused.
This other girl came from Hal Bentley, a friend
of friends. And she claimed to have every right
to this precious package. What were her exact
Why not wait until morning? Perhaps, in the
cold gray dawn, he would see more clearly his way
through this preposterous tangle. Anyhow, it
would be dangerous to give into any woman's
keeping just then a package so earnestly sought by
desperate men. Yes, he would wait until morn-
ing. That was the only reasonable course.
Reasonable? That was the word he used. A
knight prating of the reasonable !
Mr. Magee unlocked the door of number seven
and entered. Lighting his candles and prodding
the fire, he composed a note to the waiting girl in
"Everything all right. Sleep peacefully. I am
on the job. Will see you to-morrow. Mr.—
178 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Slipping this message under her door, the ex-
knight hurried away to avoid an interview, and
sat down in his chair before the fire.
"I must think," he muttered. "I must get thisi^
For an hour he pondered, threshing out as best
he could this mysterious game in which he played
a leading part unequipped with a book of rules.
He went back to the very beginning — even to the
station at Upper Asquewan Falls where the unde-
niable charm of the first of these girls had won
him completely. He reviewed the arrival of
Bland and his babble of haberdashery, of Pro-
fessor Bolton and his weird tale of peroxide
blondes and suffragettes, of Miss Norton and her
impossible mother, of Cargan, hater of reform-
ers, and Lou Max, foe of suspicion. He thought
of the figure in the dark at the foot of the steps
that had fought so savagely for the package now
in his own pocket — of the girl who had pleaded
so convincingly on the balcony for his help — of
the colder, more sophisticated woman who came
with Hal Bentley's authority to ask of him the
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW 179
same favor. Myra Thornhlll ? He had heard the
name, surely. But where ?
Mr. Magee's thoughts went back to New York.
He wondered what they would say if they could
see him now, whirling about in a queer romance
not of his own writing — he who had come to
Baldpate Inn to get away from mere romancing
and look into men's hearts, a philosopher. He
laughed out loud.
"To-morrow is another day," he reflected. 'TU
solve this whole thing then. They can't go on
playing without me — I've got the ball."
He took the package from his pocket. Its seals
had already been broken. Untying the strings, he
began carefully to unwrap the paper — the thick
yellow banking manila, and then the oiled inner
wrapping. So finally he opened up the solid mass
of — what? He looked closer. Crisp, beautiful,
one thousand dollar bills. Whew ! He had never
seen a bill of this size before. And here were two
hundred of them.
He wrapped the package up once more, and pre-
pared for bed. Just as he was about to retire, he
i8o SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
remembered Mr. Bland, bound and gagged below.
He went into the hall with the idea of releasing
the unlucky haberdasher, but from the office rose
the voices of the mayor, Max, and Bland himself.
Peace, evidently, had been declared between them.
Mr. Magee returned to number seven, locked all
the windows, placed the much-sought package be-
neath his pillow, and after a half-hour of puzzling
and tossing, fell asleep.
It was still quite dark when he awoke with a
start. In the blaclcness he could make out a fig-
ure standing by the side of his bed. He put his
hand quickly beneath his pillow ; the package was
"What do you want?" he asked, sitting up in
For answer, the intruder sprang through the
door and disappeared in the darkness of the outer
room. Mr. Magee followed. One of his win-
dows slammed back and forth in the wind. Slip-
ping on a dressing-gown and lighting a candle, he
made an investigation. The glass above the lock
had been broken. Outside, in the snow on the bal-
cony, were recent footprints.
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW i8i
Sleepily Mr. Magee procured the precious pack-
age and put it in the pocket of his gown. Then
drawing on his shoes, he added a greatcoat to
his equipment, took a candle, and went out on to
The storm had increased ; the snow flurried and
blustered; the windows of Baldpate Inn rattled
wildly all about. It was difficult to keep the can-
dle burning in that wind. Mr. Magee followed
the footprints along the east side of the inn to the
corner, then along the more sheltered rear, and
finally to the west side. On the west was a rather
unlovely annex to the main building, which in-
creasing patronage had made necessary. It was
connected with the inn by a covered passageway
from the second floor balcony. At the entrance
to this passageway the footprints stopped.
Entering the dark passageway, Mr. Magee
made his way to the door of the annex. He tried
j'it. It was locked. But as he turned away, he
heard voices on the other side.
Mr. Magee had barely enough time to extin-
guish his candle and slip into the shadows of the
corner. The door of the annex opened. A man
i82 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
stepped out into the passageway. He stood there.
The Hght from a candle held by some one in the
doorway whom Mr. Magee could not see fell full,
upon his face — the bespectacled wise face of Pro-
fessor Thaddeus Bolton.
^'Better luck next time," said the professor.
"Keep an eye pn him," said the voice from in-
side. "If he tries to leave the inn there'll be a
big row. We must be in on it — and win."
"I imagine," said Professor Bolton, smiling his
academic smile, "that the inmates of Baldpate
will make to-morrow a rather interesting day for
"It will be an interesting day for every one,"
answered the voice.
"If I should manage to secure the package, by
any chance," the professor went on, "I shall un-
doubtedly need your help in getting away with it. '
Let us arrange a signal. Should a windov/ of my
room be open at any time to-morrow, you will»
know the money is in my hands."
"Very good," replied the other. "Good night — •
and good luck."
"The same to you," answered Professor Bolr
MELODRAMA IN THE SNOW 183
ton. The door was closed, and the old man
moved off down the passageway.
After him crept Mr. Magee. He followed the
professor to the east balcony, and saw him pause
at the open window of number seven. There the
old man looked slyly about, as though in doubt.
He peered into the room, and one foot was across
the sill when Mr. Magee came up and touched
him on the arm.
Professor Bolton leaped in evident fright out
upon the balcony.
*Tt's — it's a wonderful night," he said, "I
was out for a little walk on the balcony, enjoying
it. Seeing your open window, I was afraid — "
"The night you speak so highly of," replied
Mr. Magee, "is at your left. You have lost your
iway. Good night. Professor."
He stepped inside and closed the window. Then
he pulled down the curtains in both room.s of his
suite, and spent some time exploring. Finally
he paused before the fireplace, and with the aid
of a knife unloosed a brick. Under this he placed
the package of money, removing the traces of
his act as best he could.
i84 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Now," he said, standing up, "Fm a regular
hermit with a buried treasure, as per all hermit
specifications. To-morrow I'm going to hand my
treasure to somebody — it's too much for a man
who came up here to escape the excitement and
melodrama of the world."
He looked at his watch. It was past three
o'clock. Entering the inner room, for the second
time that night he sought to sleep. "They can't
play without me — I've got the ball," he repeated
with a smile. And, safe in this thought, he closed
his eyes, and slumbered.
THE COLD GRAY DAWN
THE gayest knight must have a morning af-
ter. Mr. Magee awakened to his to find
suite seven wrapped again in its favorite polar
atmosphere. FilHng the door leading to the outer
room, he beheld the cause of his awakening — the
mayor of Reuton. Mr. Cargan regarded him with
the cold steely eye of a Disraeli in action, but
when he spoke he opened the jaws of a cocktail
"Well, young fellow," he remarked, "it seems
to me it was time you got up and faced the re-
sponsibilities of the day. First of which, I may
mention, is a little talk with me."
He stepped into the room, and through the
doorway he vacated Mr. Max came slinking.
The unlovely face of the foe of suspicion was
badly bruised, and he looked upon the world with
i86 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
no cheerful eye. Pushing aside one of the frail
bedroom chairs as untrustworthy, the mayor sat
down on the edge of Mr. Magee's bed. It creaked
"You used us pretty rough last night in the
snow," Cargan went on. "That's why I ain't dis-
posed to go in for kid g!oves and diplomacy this
morning. It's my experience that when you're
dealing with a man who's got the good old Irish
name of Magee, it's best to hit first and debate
"I — I used you roughly, Mr. Cargan?" said
"No debate, mind you," protested the mayor.
"Lou and me are making this morning call to in-
quire after a little package that went astray some-
where last night. There's two courses open to
you — hand over the package or let us take it.
I'll give you a tip — the first is the best. If we
have to take it, we might get real rough in our ac-
Mr. Max slipped closer to the bed, an ugly look
on his face. The mayor glared fixedly into Ma-
gee's eyes. The knight who fought for fair ladies
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 187
In the snow lay on his pillow and considered
"I get what I go after," remarked Cargan em-
"Yes," sparred Magee, "but the real point is
keeping what you get after you've gone after it.
You didn't make much of an impression on me
last night in that line, Mr. Cargan."
"I never cared much for humor," replied the
mayor, "especially at this early hour of the morn-
"And I hate a fresh guy," put in Max, "like
"I'm not fresh," Mr. Magee smiled, "I'm stat-
ing facts. You say you've come for that pack-
age. All right — but you've come to the wrong
room. I haven't got it."
"The hell you haven't," roared the mayor.
"Lou, look about a bit."
"Look about all you like," agreed Magee. "You
won't find it. Mr. Cargan, I admit that I laid
for you last night. I saw you open the safe ac-
cording to the latest approved methods, and I saw
you come forth with a package of money. But I
i88 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
wasn't rough with you. I might have been, to be
frank, but somebody beat me to it."
"The man with the seventh key, I suppose.
The man Bland heard walking about last night
when we were at dinner. Don't tell me you didn't
see him in that mix-up at the foot of the steps?"
"Well — I did think there was another guy,"
the mayor answered, "but Lou said I was crazy."
"Lou does you an injustice. There was an-
other guy, and if you are anxious to recover your
precious package, I advise you to wake him up
to the responsibilities of the day, not me."
The mayor considered. Mr. Max, who had
hastily made the rounds of the three rooms, came
back with empty hands.
"Well," said the mayor, "I might as well admit
it. I'm up in the air. I don't know just at this
minute where to get off. But that state of
affairs don't last long with me, young fellow.
I'll go to the bottom of this before the day
is out, believe me. And if I can't do anything
else, I'll take you back to Reuton myself and
throw you in jail for robbery."
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 189
"I wouldn^t do that," smiled Magee. "Think
of the awful job of explaining to the white neck-
tie crowd how you happened to be dynamiting a
safe on Baldpate Mountain at midnight.'^
"Oh, I guess I can get around that," said the
mayor. "That money belongs to a friend of mine
— Andy Rutter. I happen to go to the inn for
a little rest, and I grab you dynamiting the safe.
I'll keep an eye on you to-day, Mr. Magee. And
let me tell you now that if I catch you or any of
the bunch that's with you trying to make a get-
away from Baldpate, there's going to be a war
"I don't know about the other hermits,"
laughed Magee, "but personally, I expect to be
here for several weeks to come. Wl^ew ! It's cold
in here. Where's the hermit? Why hasn't he
been up to fix my fire?"
"Yes, where is he?" repeated Mr. Cargan.
"That's what everybody'd like to know. He
hasn't showed up. Not a sign of breakfast, and
me as hollow as a reformer's victory."
"He's backslid," cried Magee.
"The quitter," sneered Max. "It's only a
190 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
quitter would live on the mountain in a shack,
"You're rather hard on poor old Peters/' re-
1 marked Magee, "but when I think that I have
to get up and dress in a refrigerating plant — I
can't say I blame you. If only the fire were
He smiled his most ingratiating smile on his
"By the way, Mr. Cargan, you're up and
dressed. I've read a lot of magazine articles
about you, and they one and all agree that you're
a good fellow. You'll find kindling and paper
beside the hearth."
"What!" The mayor's roar seemed to shake
the windows. "Young man, with a nerve like
yours, you could wheedle the price of a battle-
ship from Carnegie. I — I — " He stood for a
moment gazing almost in awe at Magee. Then
he burst forth into a whole-souled laugh. "I am
a good fellow," he said. "I'll show you."
He went into the other room, and despite the
horrified protests of Lou Max, busied himself
amid the ashes of the fireplace. When he had
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 191
a blaze under way, Mr. Magee came shivering
from the other room and held out his hand.
"Mr. Cargan," he laughed, "you're a prince."
He noted with interest that the mayor's broad
shoes were mighty near two hundred thousand
While Mr. Magee drew on his clothes, the
mayor and Max sat thoughtfully before the fire,
the former with his pudgy hands folded over the
vast expanse where no breakfast reposed. Mr.
Magee explained to them that the holder of the
sixth key had arrived.
"A handsome young lady," he remarked ; "her
name is Myra Thornhill."
"Old Henry Thornhill's daughter," reflected
the mayor. "Well, seems I've sort of lost the
habit of being surprised now. I tell you, Lou,
we're breaking into the orchid division up here."
While Mr. Magee shaved — in ice-cold water,
another black mark against the Hermit of Bald-
pate — he turned over in his mind the events of
the night before. The vigil in the office, the plead-
ing of the fair girl on the balcony, the battle by
the steps, the sudden appearance of Miss Thorn-
192 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
hill, the figure in his room, the conversation by
the annex door — like a moving picture film the
•story of that weird night unrolled itself. The film
was not yet at an end. He had given himself the
night to think. Soon he would stand before the
girl of the station ; soon he must answer her ques-
tions. What was he to do with the fortune that
lay beneath the feet of the mayor of Reuton at
this minute ? He hardly knew.
He was ready to descend at last, and came into
the parlor of his suite with greatcoat and hat. In
reply to Mr. Cargan's unasked question, he said :
"I'm going up the mountain presently to reason
with our striking cook.'*
"You ain't going to leave this inn, Magee,"
said the mayor.
"Not even to bring back a cook. Come, Mr.
Cargan, be reasonable. You may go with me, if
you suspect my motives."
They went out into the hall, and Mr. Magee
passed down the corridor to the farther end,
where he rapped on the door of Miss Thornhill's
room. She appeared almost immediately, buried
beneath furs and wraps.
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 193
''You must be nearly frozen," remarked Mr.
Magee pityingly. "You and your maid come
down to the office. I want you to meet the other
"I'll come," she replied. "Mr. Magee, I've a
confession to make. I invented the maid. It
seemed so horribly unconventional and shocking
— I couldn't admit that I was alone. That was
why I wouldn't let you build a fire for me."
"Don't worry," smiled Magee. "You'll find
we have all the conveniences up here. I'll present
you to a chaperon shortly — a Mrs. Norton, who
is here with her daughter. Allow me to introduce
Mr. Cargan and Mr. Max."
The girl bowed with a rather startled air, and
Mr. Cargan mumbled something that had "pleas-
ure" in it. In the office they found Professor
Bolton and Mr. Bland sitting gloomily before the
"Got the news, Magee?" asked the haber-
dasher. "Peters has done a disappearing act."
It was evident to Magee that everybody looked
upon Peters as his creature, and laid the hermit's
sins at his door. He laughed.
194 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I'm going to head a search party shortly," he
said. "Don't I detect the odor of coffee in the
"Mrs. Norton," remarked Professor Bolton
dolefully, "has kindly consented to do what she
The girl of the station came through the dining-
room door. It was evident she had no share in
the general gloom that the hermit's absence cast
over Baldpate. Her eyes were bright with the
glories of morning on a mountain; in their
depths there was no room for petty annoyances.
"Good morning," she said to Mr. Magee. "Isn't
it bracing ? Have you been outside ? Oh, I — "
"Miss Norton — Miss Thornhill," explained
Magee. "Miss Thornhill has the sixth key, you
know. She came last night without any of us
With lukewarm smiles the two girls shook
hands. Outwardly the glances they exchanged
were nonchalant and casual, but somehow Mr.
Magee felt that among the matters they estab-
lished were social position, wit, cunning, guile,
,and taste in dress.
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 195
"May I help with the coffee?" asked Miss
"Only to drink it," replied the girl of the sta-
tion. "It's all made now, you see."
As if in proof of this, Mrs. Norton appeared in
the dining-room door with a tray, and simulta-
neously opened an endless monologue :
"I don't know what you men will say to this,
Fm sure — -nothing in the house but some coffee
and a few crackers — not even any canned soup,
and I thought from the way things went yester-
day he had ten thousand cans of it at the very
least — ^but men are all alike — what name did you
say? — oh yes, Miss Thornhill, pleased to meet
you, Fm sure — excuse my not shaking hands — as
I was saying, men are all alike — Norton thought
if he brought home a roast on Saturday night it
ought to last the v/eek out — "
She rattled on. Unheeding her flow of talk,
the hermits of Baldpate Inn swallowed the coffee
she offered. When the rather unsatisfactory sub-
stitute for breakfast was consumed, Mr. Magee
"Now," he said, "Fm going to run up to the
196 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
hermit's shack and reason with him as best I can.
I shall paint in touching colors our sad plight. If
the man has an atom of decency — "
"A walk on the mountain in the morning," said
Miss Thornhill quickly. "Splendid. I — "
"Wonderful," put in Miss Norton. "I, for one,
can't resist. Even though I haven't been invited,
I'm going along." She smiled sweetly. She had
beaten the other girl by the breadth of a hair, and
she knew it. New glories shone in her eyes.
"Good for you !" said Magee. The evil hour of
explanations was at hand, surely. "Run up and
get your things."
While Miss Norton was gone, Mr. Cargan
and Lou Max engaged in earnest converse near
a window. After which Mr. Max pulled on his
"I ain't been invited either," he said, "but I
reckon I'll go along. I always wanted to see what
a hermit lived like when he's really buckled down
to the hermit business. And then a walk in the
morning has always been my first rule for health.
You don't mind, do you?"
"Who am I," asked Magee, "that I should
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 197
stand between you and health? Come along, by
With the blue corduroy suit again complete,
and the saucy hat perched on her blond head,
Miss Norton ran down the stairs and received the
news that Mr. Max also was enthralled by the
possibilities of a walk up Baldpate. The three
went out through the front door, and found un-
der the snow a hint of the path that led to the
shack of the post-card merchant.
'Will you go ahead?" asked Magee of Max.
'Sorry," grinned Max, "but I guess I'll bring
up the rear."
"Suspicion," said Mr. Magee, shaking his head,
"has caused a lot of trouble in the world. Re-
member the cruelty practised on Pueblo Sam."
"I do," replied Mr. Max, "and it nearly breaks
my heart. But there's a little matter I forgot to
mention last night. Suspicion is all right in its
"Where's that?" asked Mr. Magee.
Mr. Max tapped his narrow chest. "Here,"
he said. So the three began the climb, Mr. Magee
and the girl ahead, Mr. Max leering at their heels.
198 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
The snow still fell, and the picture of the world
was painted in grays and whites. At some points
along the way to the hermit's abode it had drifted
deep; at others the foot-path was swept almost
bare by the wind. For a time Mr. Max kept so
close that the conversation of the two in the lead
v/as necessarily of the commonplaces of the wind
and skv and mountain.
Covertly Mr. Magee glanced at the girl striding
along by his side. The red flamed in her cheeks;
her long lashes were flecked with the white of
the snow ; her face was such a one as middle-aged
men dream of while their fat wives read the
evening paper's beauty hints at their side. Far
beyond the ordinary woman was she desirable
and pleasing. Mr. Magee told himself he had
been a fool. For he who had fought so valiantly
for her heart's desire at the foot of the steps had
faltered when the time came to hand her the prize.
Why? What place had caution in the wild
scheme of the night before? None, surely. And
yet he, dolt, idiot, coward, had in the moment of
triumph turned cautious. Full confession, he de-
cided, was the only way out.
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 199
Mr. Max was panting along quite ten feet be-
hind. Over her shoulder the girl noted this ; she
turned her questioning eyes on Magee; he felt
that his moment had come.
"I don't know how to begin," m.uttered the nov-
elist whose puppets' speeches had always been so
apt. "Last night you sent me on a sort of — quest
for the golden fleece. I didn't know who had been
fleeced, or what the idea was. But I fared forth,
as they say. I got it for you — "
The eyes of the girl glowed happily. She was
"I'm so glad," she said. "But why — why didn't
you give it to me last night ? It would have meant
so much if you had."
"That," replied Mr. Magee, "is what I'm com-
ing to — very reluctantly. Did you note any spirit
of caution in the fellow who set forth on your
quest, and dropped over the balcony rail? You
did not. I waited on the porch and saw Max tap
the safe. I saw him and Cargan come out. I
waited for them. Just as I was about to jump on
them, somebody — the man with the seventh key,
I guess — did it for me. There was a scuflle. I
200 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
joined it. I emerged with the package everybody
seems so interested in."
*'Yes/* said the girl breathlessly. "And then — "
"I started to bring it to you/' went on Magee,
glancing over his shoulder at Max. "I was all
aglow with romance, and battle, and all that sort
of thing. I pictured the thrill of handing you
the thing you had asked. I ran up-stairs. At the
head of the stairs— I saw her."
The light died in her eyes. Reproach entered
"Yes," continued Magee, "your knight errant
lost his nerve. He ceased to run on schedule.
She, too, asked me for that package of money."
"And you gave it to her," said the girl scorn-
"Oh, no," answered Magee quickly. "Not so
bad as that. I simply sat down on the steps and
thought. I got cautious. I decided to wait until
to-day. I — I did wait."
He paused. The girl strode on, looking straight
ahead. Mr. Magee thought of adding that he had
felt it might be dangerous to place a package so
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 2or
voraciously desired in her frail hands. He de-
cided he'd better not, on second thought.
"I know," he said, "what you think. I'm a fine
specimen of a man to send on a hunt hke that.
A weak-kneed mollycoddle who passes into a
state of coma at the crucial moment. But — I'm
going to give you that package yet.'*
The girl turned her head. Mr. Magee saw that
her eyes were misty with tears.
"You're playing with me," she said brokenly.
"I might have known. And I trusted you. You're
in the game with the others — and I thought you
weren't. I staked my whole chance of success on
you — now you're making sport of me. You
never intended to give me that money — you don't
intend to now."
"On my word," cried Magee, "I do intend to
give it to you. The minute we get back to the
inn. I have it safe in my room."
"Give it to her," said the girl bitterly. "Why
'don't you give it to her?"
Oh, the perversity of women !
It's you I want to give it to," replied Magee
202 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
warmly. "I don't know what was the matter
with me last night. I was a fool. You don't
believe In me, I know — " Her face was cold and
"And I wanted to believe in you — so much,'*
"Why did you want to?" cried Magee.
She plodded on through the snow.
"You must believe," he pleaded. "I don't
know what all this is about — on my word of
honor. But I want to give you that money, and I
will — the minute we get back to the inn. Will
you believe then? Will you?"
"I hate you," said the girl simply.
She should not have said that. As far back
as he could remember, such opposition had stirred
Mr. Magee to wild deeds. He opened his mouth
and words flowed forth. What were the words?
"I love you ! I love you ! Ever since that mo-
ment in the station I have loved you! I love
Faintly he heard himself saying it over and
over. By the gods, he was proposing! Inanely,
THE COLD GRAY DAWN 203
in words of one syllable, as the butcher's boy
might have told his love to the second kitchen
"I love you/' he continued. Idiot!
Often Mr. Magee had thought of the moment
when he would tell his love to a woman. It was
a moment of dim lights, music perhaps in the dis-
tance, two souls caught up in the magic of the
moonlit night — a pretty graceful speech from
him, a sweet gracious surrender from the girl.
And this — instead.
"I love you." In heaven's name, was he never
going to stop saying it? "I want you to believe.'''
Bright morning on the mountain, a girl in an
angry mood at his side, a seedy chaperon on his
trail, an erring cook ahead. Good lord ! He re-
called that a fellow novelist, whose love scenes
were regarded as models by young people suffer-
ing the tender passion, had once confessed that he
proposed to his wife on a street-car, and was ac-
cepted just as the conductor handed him his
transfers. Mr. Magee had been scornful. He
could never be scornful again. By a tremendous
effort he avoided repeating his childish refrain.
204 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
The girl deliberately stopped. There was never
less of sweet gracious surrender in a suffragette
hurling a stone through a shop-keeper's window.
She eyed Mr. Magee pityingly, and they stood
until Mr. Max caught up with them.
*'So that's the hermit's shack," said Max, in-
dicating the little wooden hut at which they had
arrived. "A funny place for a guy to buiy him-
self. I should think he'd get to longing for the
white lights and the table d'hotes with red wine."
"A very unromantic speech," reproved the girl.
**You should be deeply thrilled at the thought of
penetrating the secrets of the hermitage. I am.
Are you, Mr. Magee?"
She smiled up at Magee, and he was in that
state where he thought that in the blue depths
of her eyes he saw the sunny slopes of the islands
of the blest.
*T— " he caught himself in time. He would
'not be Idiot enough to babble it again. He pulled
himself together. "I'm going to make you believe
in me," he said, with a touch of his old jauntiness.
Mr. Max was knocking with characteristic
loudness at the hermit's door.
"A FALSEHOOD UNDER THE PALMS
^^'^ ^'"AKE me a willow cabin at your gate/'
quoted Mr. Magee, looking at the her-
mit's shack with interest.
"U-m-m," replied Miss Norton. Thus beauti-
ful sentiments frequently fare, even at the hands
of the most beautiful. Mr. Magee abandoned his
project of completing the speech.
The door of the hermit's abode opened before
Mr. Max's masterful knock, and the bearded lit-
tle man appeared on the threshold. He was clad
in a purple dressing-gown that suggested some
woman had picked it. Surely no man could have
fallen victim to that riot of color.
"Come in," said the hermit, in a tone so color-
less it called added attention to the gown. "Miss,
you have the chair. You'll have to be contented
with that soap-box davenport, gentlemen. Well ?"
206 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
He stood facing them In the middle of his her-
mitage. With curious eyes they examined its
architecture. Exiled hands had built it of poles
and clay and a reliable brand of roofing. In the'
largest room, where they sat, were chairs, a table,
and a book-shelf hammered together from stray
boards — furniture midway between that in a hut
on a desert isle and that of a home made happy
from the back pages of a woman's magazine.
On the wall were various posters that defined the
hermit's taste in art as inflammatory, bold, ar-
resting. Through one door at the rear they
caught a glimpse of a tiny kitchen; through an-
other the white covering of a hall-room cot could
"Well?" repeated Mr. Peters. "I suppose
you're a delegation, so to speak?"
"A cold unfeeling word/' objected Mr. Magee.
"We have come to plead" — began Miss Nor-
ton, turning her eyes at their full candle-power on
the hermit's bearded face.
"I beg pardon, miss," interrupted Mr. Peters>
''but it ain't any use. I've thought it all out — in
the night watches, as the poet says. I came up
UNDER THE PALMS 207
here to be alone. I can't be a hermit and a cook,
too. I can't and be true to myself. No, you'll
have to accept my resignation, to take effect at
He sat down on an uncertain chair and regard-
ed them sorrowfully. His long well-shaped fin-
gers clutched the cord of the purple gown.
"It isn't as though we were asking you to give
up the hermit business for good," argued Magee,
"It's just for a short time — maybe only for a few
days. I should think you would welcome the
Mr. Peters shook his head vigorously. The
brown curls waved flippantly about his shoulders.
"My instincts," he replied, "are away from the
crowd. I explained that to you when we first
met, Mr. Magee."
"Any man," commented Mr. Max, " ought to
be able to strangle his instincts for a good salary,
payable in advance."
"You come here," said the hermit with annoy-
ance, "and you bring with you the sentiments of
the outside world — the world I have foresworn.
Don't do it. I ask you." ^
2o8 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE ^
"I don't get you/' reflected Mr. Max. "No,
pal, I don't quite grab this hermit game. It ain't
human nature, I say. Way up here miles from
the little brass rail and the sporting extra, and
other things that make life worth living. It's
"I'm not asking your approval," replied the
hermit. "All I ask is to be let alone."
"Let me speak," said Miss Norton. "Mr.
Peters and I have been friends, you might say,
for three years. It was three years ago my awed
eyes first fell upon him, selling his post-cards at
the inn. He was to me then — ^the true romance —
the man to whom the world means nothing with-
out a certain woman at his side. That is what
he has meant to all the girls who came to Bald-
pate. He isn't going to shatter my ideal of him
• — ^he isn't going to refuse a lady in distress. You
will come for just a little while, won't you, Mr.
But Peters shook his head again.
"I dislike women as a sex," he said, "but I've
always been gentle and easy with isolated exam-
ples of 'em. It ain't my style to turn 'em down.
UNDER THE PALMS 209
But this is asking too much. I*m sorry. But I
got to be true to my oath — I got to be a hermit.''
"Maybe," sneered Mr. Max, "he's got good
reason for being a hermit. Maybe there's brass
buttons and blue uniforms mixed up in it."
"You come from the great world of suspicion,"
answered the hermit, turning reproving eyes upon
him. "Your talk is natural — it goes with the life
you lead. But it isn't true."
"And Mr. Max is the last who should insinu-'
ate," rebuked Mr. Magee. "Why, only last night
he denounced suspicion, and bemoaned the fact
that there is so much of it in the world."
"Well he might," replied the hermit. "Suspi-
cion is the key-note of modem life — especially in
New York." He drew the purple dressing-gown
closer about his plump form. "I remember the
last time I was in the big town, seeing a crowd of ,
men in the grill-room of the Hoffman House. ^
One of them — long, lean, like an eel — stooped!
down and whispered in the ear of a little fellow
with a diamond horseshoe desecrating his haber-
dashery, and pointing to another man near by.
*No, I won't,' says the man with the diamonds,
210 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
*I don't introduce nobody to nobody. Let every
man play his own game, I say.' That's New
York. That's the essence of the town. *I intro-
duce nobody to nobody.' "
*Tt seems odd," remarked Mr. Magee, "to hear
you speak of the time you walked on pavements."
*T haven't always been on Baldpate Mountain,"
replied the hermit. "Once I, too, paid taxes and
wore a derby hat and sat in barbers' chairs. Yes,
I sat in 'em in many towns, in many comers of
this little round globe. But that's all over now."
The three visitors gazed at Mr. Peters with a
"New York," said Mr. Max softly, as a better
man might have spoken the name of the girl he
loved. "If s a great little Christmas tree. The
candles are always burning and the tinsel presents
always look good to me."
The hermit's eyes strayed far away — down the
mountain — and beyond.
"New York," said he, and his tone was that in
which Max had said the words. "A great little
Christmas tree it is, with fine presents for the
reaching. Sometimes, at night here, I see it as it
UNDER THE PALMS 211
was four years ago — I see the candles lit on the
Great White Way — I hear the elevated roar, and
the newsboys shout, and Diamond Jim Brady
applauding at a musical comedy's first night.
New York T'
Mr. Max rose pompously and pointed a yellow
finger at the Hermit of Baldpate Mountain.
"I got you!" he cried in triumph. *'I'm wise!
You want to go back."
A half-hearted smile crossed the visible portion
of the hermit's face.
"I guess I'm about the poorest liar in the
world," he said. "I never got away with but one
lie in my life, and that was only for a little while.
It was a masterpiece while it lasted, too. But it
was my only hit as a liar. Usually I fail, as I
have failed now. I lied when I said I couldn't
cook for you because I had to be true to my her-
mit's oath. That isn't the reason. Fm afraid."
Afraid?" echoed Mr. Magee.
"Scared," said Mr. Peters, *'of temptation.
Your seventh son of a seventh son friend here
has read my palm O. K. I want to go back.
Not in the summer, when the inn blazes like
212 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Broadway every evening, and I can sit here and
listen to the latest comic opera tunes come drift-
ing up from the casino, and go down and mingle
Jwith the muslin brigade any time I want, and
Isee the sympathetic look in their eyes as they buy
[my postals. It ain't then I want to go back. It's
^iWhen fall comes, and the trees on the mountain
are bare, and Quimby locks up the inn, and
there's only the wind and me on the mountain
— then I get the fever. I haven't the post-card
trade to think of — so I think of Ellen, and New
,York. She's — ^my wife. New York — it's my
' "That's why I can't come among you to
cook. It'd be leading me into temptation greater
tthan I could stand. I'd hear your talk, and like
as not when you went away I'd shave off this
'beard, and burn the manuscript of Woman, and
go down into the marts of trade. Last night I
walked the floor till two. I can't stand such
Mr. Peters' auditors regarded him in silence.
He rose and moved toward the kitchen door.
"Now you understand how it is," he said.
UNDER THE PALMS 213
Perhaps you will go and leave me to my bak-
'One minute," objected Mr. Magee. "You
spoke of one He — ^your masterpiece. We must
hear about that."
'Yes — spin the yam, pal," requested Mr. Max.
Well," said the hermit reluctantly, "if you're
quite comfortable — it ain't very short."
"Please," beamed Miss Norton.
With a sigh the Hermit of Baldpate Mountain
sank upon a most unsocial seat and drew his pur-
ple splendor close.
"It was like this," he began. "Five years ago
I worked for a fruit company, and business sent
me sliding along the edges of strange seas and
picture-book lands. I met little brown men, and
listened to the soft swish of the banana growing,
and had an orchestra seat at a revolution or two.
Don't look for a magazine story about over-
thrown tyrants, or anything like that. It's just
a quiet little lie I'm speaking of, told on a quiet
little afternoon, by the sands of a sea as blue as
Baldpate Inn must have been this morning when
I didn't show up with breakfast.
214 SEVEN BIEYS TO BALDPATE
"Sitting on those yellow sands the afternoon
I speak of, wearing carpet slippers made for me
by loving, so to speak, hands, I saw Alexander
McMann come along. He was tall and straight
and young and free, and I envied him, for even
in those days my figure would never have done
in a clothing advertisement, ov/ing to the heri-
tage of too many table d'hotes about the middle.
Well, McMann sat at my side, and little by little,
with the sea washing sad-like near by, I got from
him the story of his exile, and why.
"I don't need to tell you it was woman had
sent him off for the equator. This one's name
was Marie, I think, and she worked at a lunch-
counter in Kansas City. From the young man's
bill-of-fare description of her, I gathered that
she had cheeks like peaches and cream, but a heart
like a lunch-counter doughnut, which is hard.
" 'She cast you off?' I asked.
" *She threw me down,' said he.
"Well, it seems he'd bought a ticket for that
loud-colored country where I met him, and come
down there to forget. *I could buy the ticket,*
he said, 'as soon as I learned how to pronounce
UNDER THE PALMS 215
the name of this town. But I can't forget. I've
tried. It's hopeless.* And he sat there looking
like a man whose best friend has died, owing him
money. I won't go into his emotions. Mr.
Bland, up at the inn, is suffering them at the
present moment, I'm told. They're unimportant ;
I'll hurry on to the lie. I simply say he was sor-
rowful, and it seemed to me a crime, what with
the sun so bright, and the sea so blue, and the
world so full of a number of things. Yes, it
certainly was a crime, and I decided he had to
be cheered up at any cost. How? I thought a
while, gazing up at the sky, and then it came to
me — the lie — the great glorious lie — and I told
The hermit looked in defiance round the listen-
" 'You're chuck full of sorrow now,' I said
to McMann, 'but it won't last long.' He shook
his head. 'Nonsense,' I told him. 'Look at me.
Do you see me doing a heart-bowed-down act
under the palms? Do you find anything but joy
in my face?' And he couldn't, the lie unfolding
itself in such splendor to me. 'You?' he asked.
2i6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
*Me,' I said. 'Ten years ago I was where you
are to-day. A woman had spoken to me as Mabel
• — or Marie — or what was it ? — spoke to you/
"I could see I had the boy interested. I un-
folded my story, as it occurred to me at the
moment. *Yes/ said I, 'ten years ago I saw her
first. Dancing as a butterfly dances from flower
to flower. Dancing on the stage — a fairy sprite.
I loved her — worshiped her. It could never be.
There in the dark of the wings, she told me so.
And she shed a tear^— a sweet tear of sorrow at
" *I went to my room,' I told McMann, 'with
a lot of time-tables and steamship books. Bright
red books — the color came off on my eager
hands. I picked out a country, and sailed away.
, Like you, I thought I could never be happy, never
even smile, again. Look at me.'
"He looked. I guess my face radiated bliss.
The idea was so lovely. He was impressed — I
could see it. T'm supremely happy,' I told him.
T am my own master. I wander where I will.
No woman tells me my hour for going out, or
my hour for coming in. I v;ander. For com-
UNDER THE PALMS 217
pany I have her picture — as I saw her last — with
twinkling feet that never touched earth. As the
spirit moves, I go. You can move the memory of
a woman in a flash, my boy, but it takes two
months to get the real article started, and then
like as not she's forgot everything of importance.
Ever thought of that? You should. You're
going to be as happy as I am. Study me. Re-
flect.' I waved my carpet-slippered feet toward
the palms. I had certainly made an impression
on Alexander McMann,
"As we walked back over the sands and grass-
grown streets to the hotel, his heart got away
from that cupid's lunch-counter, and he was al-
most cheerful. I was gay to the last, but as I
parted from him my own heart sank. I knew I
had to go back to her, and that she would prob-
ably give me a scolding about the carpet slippers.
I parted from McMann with a last word of cheer.
Then I went to the ship — to her. My wife.
That was the lie, you understand. She traveled
everywhere with me. She never trusted me.
"We were due to sail that night, and I was
glad. For I worried some over what I had done.-
2i8 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Suppose my wife and Alexander McMann should
meet. An estimable woman, but large, deter-
mined, little suggesting the butterfly of the foot-
lights I married, long before. We had a bad
session over the carpet slippers. The boat was
ready to sail, when McMann came aboard. He
carried a bag, and his face shone.
" *She's sent for me,' he said. *Marie wants
me. I got a letter from my brother. I'll blow
into Kansas like a cyclone, and claim her.'
"I was paralyzed. At that minute a large black
figure appeared on deck. It headed for me.
*Jake,' it says, 'you've sat up long enough. Go
"McMann's face was terrible. I saw it was
all up. T lied, McMann,' I explained. *The idea
just came to me, it fascinated me, and I lied.
She did turn me down — ^there in the wings. And
she shed that tear I spoke of, too. But, when
I was looking over the railroad folders, she sent
for me. I went — on the wings of love. It was
two blocks — ^but I went on the wings of love.
We've been married twenty years. Forgive me,
UNDER THE PALMS 219^
"McMann turned around. He picked up the
bag. I asked where he was going. *Ashore,' he
said, 'to think. I may go back to Kansas City — '
I may. But I'll just think a bit first.' And he
climbed into the ship's boat. I never saw him
The hermit paused, and gazed dreamily into
"That," he said, "was my one great lie, my
masterpiece. A year afterward I came up here
on the mountain to be a hermit."
"As a result of it?" asked Miss Norton.
"Yes," answered Mr. Peters, "I told the story
to a friend. I thought he was a friend — so he
was, but married. My wife got to hear of it.
'So you denied my existence,' she said. 'As a
joke,' I told her. 'The joke's on you,' she says.
That was the end. She went her way, and I
went mine. I'd just unanimously gone her way
so long, I was a little dazed at first with my free-
dom. After fighting for a living alone for a
time, I came up here. It's cheap. I get the
solitude I need for my book. Not long ago I
heard I could go back to her if I apologized."
220 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
'Stick to your guns," advised Mr. Max.
I'm trying to/' Mr. Peters replied. "But it's
lonesome here — in winter. And at Christmas in
particular. This dressing-gown was a Christmas
present from Ellen. She picked it. Pretty, ain't
it? You see why I can't come down and cook
for you. I might get the fever for society, and
shave, and go to Brooklyn, where she's living
with her sister."
*'But," said Mr. Magee, "we're in an awful fix.
You've put us there. Mr. Peters, as a man of
honor, I appeal to you. Your sense of fairness
must tell you my appeal is just. Risk it one more
day, and I'll have a cook sent up from the vil-
lage. Just one day. There's no danger in that.
Surely you can resist temptation one little day.
A man of your character."
Miss Norton rose and stood before Mr. Peters.
She fixed him with her eyes — eyes into which
no man could gaze and go his way unmoved.
"Just one tiny day," she pleaded.
Mr. Peters sighed. He rose.
**rm a fool," he said. "I can't help it. I'll
UNDER THE PALMS 221
take chances on another day. Though nobody
Icnows where It'll lead."
"Brooklyn, maybe/' whispered Lou Max to
Magee in mock horror.
The hermit donned his coat, attended to a few
household duties, and led the delegation outside.
Dolefully he locked the door of his shack. The
four started down the mountain.
"Back to Baldpate with our cook," said Mr.
Magee into the girl's ear. "I know now how
Caesar felt when he rode through Rome with his
ex-foes festooned about his chariot wheels."
Mr. Max again chose the rear, triumphantly
escorting Mr. Peters. As Mr. Magee and the
girl swung into the lead, the former was moved
to recur to the topic he had handled so amateur-
ishly a short time before.
"I'll make you believe in me yet," he said.
She did not turn her head.
"The moment we reach the inn," he went on,
"I shall come to you, with the package of money
in my hand. Then you'll believe I want to help
you — tell me you'll believe then."
^22 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Very likely I shall," answered the girl with-
out interest. "If you really do intend to give
me that money — no one must know about it."
j "No one shall know," he answered, "but you
They walked on in silence. Then shyly the
girl turned her head. Oh, most assuredly, she
was desirable. Clumsy as had been his declara-
tion, Mr. Magee resolved to stick to it through
"I'm sorry I spoke as I did," she said. "Will
you forgive me?"
"Forgive you ?" he cried. "Why, I — "
"And now," she interrupted, "let us talk of
other things. Of ships, aad shoes, and sealing-
wax — "
) "All the topics in the world," he replied, "can
lead to but one with me — "
"Ships?" asked the girl.
"For honeymoons," he suggested.
"In some circles of society, I believe they are
•flung at bridal parties."
"And sealing-wax?" ^
UNDER THE PALMS 223
'On the license, isn't it ?'' he queried.
I'll not try you on cabbage and kings,"
laughed the girl. "Please, oh, please, don't fail
me. You won't, will you?" Her face was seri-
ous. "You see, it means so very much to me."
"Fail you ?" cried Magee. "I'd hardly do that
now. In ten minutes that package will be in your
hands — along with my fate, my lady."
"I shall be so relieved." She turned her face
away, there was a faint flush in the cheek toward
Mr. Magee. "And — happy," she whispered un-
der her breath.
They were then at the great front door of
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN
INSIDE, before the office fire, Miss Thornhill
read a magazine in the indolent fashion so
much affected at Baldpate Inn during the heated
term; while the mayor of Reuton chatted amia-
bly with the ponderously coy Mrs. Norton. Into
this circle burst the envoys to the hermitage,
flushed, energetic, snowflaked.
"Hail to the chef who in triumph advances!"
cried Mr. Magee.
He pointed to the door, through which Mr.
Max was leading the captured Mr. Peters.
"You got him, didyu?" rasped Mrs. Norton.
"Without the use of anesthetics," answered
Magee. "Everybody ready for one of Mr. Pe-
ters' inimitable lunches?"
"Put me down at the head of the list," con-
tributed the mayor.
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 22^
Myra Thornhill laid down her magazine, and
fixed her great black eyes upon the radiant girl
"And was the walk in the morning air," she
asked, "all you expected?"
"All, and much more," laughed Miss Norton,
mischievously regarding the man who had bab-
bled to her of love on the mountain. "By the
way, enjoy Mr. Peters while you can. He's back
for just one day."
"Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow the
cook leaves, as the fellow says," supplemented
Mr. Max, removing his overcoat.
"How about a quick lunch, Peters?" inquired
"Out of what, rd like to know," put in Mrs.
Norton. "Not a thing in the house to eat. Just
like a man."
"You didn't look in the right place, ma'am,"
replied Mr. Peters with relish. "I got supplies
for a couple of days in the kitchen."
"Well, what's the sense in hiding 'em?" the
large lady inquired.
"It ain't hiding — it's system," explained Mr.
226 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Peters. "Something women don't understand."
He came close to Mr. Magee, and whispered low :
"You didn't warn me there was another of 'em."
"The last, on my word of honor," Magee told
"The last," sneered Mr. Peters. "There isn't
any last up here." And with a sidelong glance at
the new Eve in his mountain Eden, he turned
away to the kitchen.
"Now," whispered Magee to Miss Norton, "I'll
get you that package. I'll prove that it was for
you I fought and bled the mayor of Reuton.
Watch for our chance — when I see you a^ain
I'll have it in my pocket."
"You mustn't fail me," she replied. "It means
Mr. Magee started for the stairs. Between
him and them loomed suddenly the great bulk of
Mr. Cargan. His hard menacing eyes looked
full into Magee's.
"I want to speak to you, young fellow," he re-
"I'm flattered," said Magee, "that you find my
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 22T
company so enchanting. In ten minutes Fll be
ready for another interview."
"You're ready now," answered the mayor,
"even if you don't know it." His tone was that
of one correcting a child. He took Mr. Magee's
arm in a grip which recalled to that gentleman a
fact the muckraking stories always dwelt on —
how this Cargan had, in the old days, "put away
his man" in many shady corners of a great city.
"Come over here," said Cargan. He led the
way to a window. Over his shoulder Magee
noted the troubled eyes of Miss Norton follow-
ing. "Sit down. I've been trying to dope you
out, and I think I've got you. I've seen your
kind before. Every few months one of 'em
breezes into Reuton, spends a whole day talking
to a few rats I've had to exterminate from poli-
tics, and then flies back to New York >vith a ten-
page story of my vicious career all ready for the
linotypers. Yes, sir — I got you. You write sweet
things for the magazines."
"Think so?" inquired Magee.
"Know it," returned the mayor heartily. "So
228 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
youVe out after old Jim Cargan's scalp again,
are you? I thought that now, seeing stories on
the corruption of the courts is so plentiful, you'd
3et the shame of the city halls alone for a while.
But — well, I guess I'm what you guys call good
copy. Big, brutal, uneducated, picturesque — ^you
see I read them stories myself. How long will
the American public stand being ruled by a man
like this, when it might be authorizing pretty boys
with kid gloves to get next to the good things?
That's the dope, ain't it — the old dope of the re-
form gang — the ballyhoo of the bunch that can't
let the existing order stand? Don't worry, I
ain't going to get started on that again. But I
want to talk to you serious — like a father. There
was a young fellow like you once — "
"Like me ?"
"Exactly. He was out working on long hours
and short pay for the reform gang, and he hap-
pened to get hold of something that a man 1
knew — a man high up in public office — wanted,
and wanted bad. The young fellow was going to
get two hundred dollars for the article he was
writing. My friend offered him twenty thou-
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 229
sand to call it off. What'd the young fellow do?"
"Wrote the article, of course," said Magee.
"Now — now," reproved Cargan. "That re-
mark don't fit in with the estimate I've made of
you. I think you're a smart boy. Don't disap-
point me. This young fellow I speak of — he
was smart, all right. He thought the matter
over. He knew the reform bunchj through and
through. All glory and no pay, serving them.
He knew how they chased bubbles, and made a
lot of noise, and never got anywhere in the end.
He thought it over, Magee, the same as you're
going to do. 'You're on,' says this lad, and added
five figures to his roll as easy as we'd add a nickel.
He had brains, that guy."
"And no conscience," commented Magee.
"Conscience," said Mr. Cargan, "ain't worth
much except as an excuse for a man that hasn't
made good to give his wife. How much did you
say you was going to get for this article?"
Mr. Magee looked him coolly In the eye.
"If it's ever written,'* he said, "it will be a two-
"There ain't anything like that in it for you,"
230 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
replied the mayor. "Think over what I've told
"I'm afraid," smiled Magee, "I'm too busy to
He again crossed the office floor to the stair-
way. Before the fire sat the girl of the station,
her big eyes upon him, pleadingly. With a re-
assuring smile in her direction, he darted up the
"And now," he thought, as he closed and
locked the door of number seven behind him, "for
the swag. So Cargan would give twenty thou-
sand for that little package. I don't blame him."
He opened a window and glanced out along
the balcony. It was deserted in either direction ;
iits snowy floor was innocent of footprints. Re-
entering number seven, he knelt by the fireplace
and dug up the brick under which lay the pack-
age so dear to many hearts on Baldpate Moun-
"I might have known," he muttered.
For the money was gone. He dug up several
of the bricks, and rummaged about beneath them.
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 231^
No use. The fat little bundle of bills had flown.
Only an ugly hole gaped up at him.
He sat down. Of course! What a fool he
had been to suppose that such treasure as this
would stay long in a hiding-place so obvious.
He who had made a luxurious living writing
tales of the chase of gems and plate and gold
had bungled the thing from the first. He could
hammer out on a typewriter wild plots and coun-
ter-plots — with a boarding-school girl's cupid
busy all over the place. But he could not live
A boarding-school cupid! Good lord! He
remembered the eyes of the girl in blue corduroy
as they had met his when he turned to the stairs.
What would she say now ? On this he had gaily
staked her faith in him. This was to be the test
of his sincerity, the proof of his devotion. And
now he must go to her, looking like a fool once
more — ^go to her and confess that again he had
His rage blazed forth. So they had "got to
him", after all. Who? He thought of the
232 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
smooth crafty mountain of a man who had de-
tained him a moment ago. Who but Cargan and
Max, of course? They had found his childish
hiding-place, and the money had come home to
their eager hands. No doubt they were laughing
slyly at him now.
Well, he would show them yet. He got up
and walked the floor. Once he had held them
up in the snow and spoiled their little game — he
would do it again. How? When? He did not
know. His soul cried for action of some sort,
but he was up against a blind alley, and he
He unlocked the door of number seven. To
go down-stairs, to meet the sweet eagerness of
the girl who depended on him, to confess him-
self tricked — it took all the courage he had. Why
had it all happened, anyhow? Confound it,
hadn't he come up here to be alone with his
thoughts? But, brighter side, it had given him
her — or it would give him her before the last
card was played. He shut his teeth tightly, and
went down the stairs.
Mr. Bland had added himself to the group
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 233'.
about the fire. Quickly the eyes of Miss Norton
met Magee's. She was trembHng with excite-
ment. Cargan, huge, red, cheery, got in Magee's
path once more.
"I'll annihilate this man," thought Magee.
"I've been figuring," said the mayor, "that was
one thing he didn't have to contend with. No,
sir, there wasn't any bright young men hunting
up old Napoleon and knocking him in the
monthly magazines. They didn't go down to
Sardinia and pump it out of the neighbors that
he started business on borrowed money, and that
his father drank more than was good for him.
They didn't run illustrated articles about the dia-
monds he wore, and moving pictures of him eat-
"No, I guess not," replied Magee abstractedly.
"I reckon there was a lot in his record wasn't
meant for the newspapers," continued Cargan re-
flectively. "And it didn't get there. Nap was
lucky. He had it on the reformers there. They
couldn't squash him with the power of the press."
Mr. Magee broke away from the mayor's re-
hashed history, and hurried to Miss Norton.
234 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
You promised yesterday," he reminded her,
to show me the pictures of the admiral."
"Sd I did," she rephed, rising quickly. "To
think you have spent all this time in Baldpate
Inn and not paid homage to its own particular
cock of the walk."
She led him to a portrait hanging beside the
"Behold," she said, "the admiral on a sunny
day in July. Note the starchy grandeur of him,
even with the thermometer up in the clouds.
That's one of the things the rocking-chair fleet
adores in him. Can you imagine the flurry at
the approach of all that superiority? Theodore
Roosevelt, William Faversham, and Richard
Harding Davis all arriving together couldn't
overshadow the admiral for a minute."
Mr. Magee gazed at the picture of a pompous
little man, whose fierce mustache seemed anxious
to make up for the lack of hair on his head.
"A bald hero at a summer resort," he com-
mented, "it seems incredible."
"Oh, they think he lost his hair fighting for
the flag," she laughed. "It's winter, and snow-
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 235
ing, or I shouldn't dare Icse-majeste. And — over
here — is the admiral on the veranda, playing it's
a quarter deck. And here the great portrait —
Andrew Rutter with a profaning arm over the
admiral's shoulder. The old ladies make their
complaints to Mr. Rutter in softer tones after
seeing that picture."
"And this?" asked Magee, moving farther
from the group by the fire.
"A precious one — I wonder they leave it here
in winter. This is the admiral as a young man —
clipped from a magazine article. Even without
the mustache, you see, he had a certain martial
"And now he's the ruler of the queen's navee,"
smiled Magee. He looked about. "Is it possible
to see the room where the admiral plays his fa-
"Step softly," she answered. "In here. There
stands the very table."
They went into the small card-room at the right
of the entrance to the office, and Mr. Magee
quietly closed the door behind them. The time
had come. He felt his heart sink.
236 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Well?" said the girl, with an eagerness she
could not conceal.
Mr. Magee groped for words. And found —
his old friends of the mountain.
"I love you/' he cried desperately. "You must
believe I want to help you. It looks rather the
other way now, I'll admit. I want you to have
that money. I don't know who you are, nor what
this all means, but I want you to have it. I went
up-stairs determined to give it to you — "
"Really." The word was at least fifty degrees
below the temperature of the card-room.
"Yes, really. I won't ask you to believe — but
I'm telling the truth. I went to the place where
I had fatuously hid the money — under a brick of
my fireplace. It was gone."
"How terribly unfortunate."
"Yes, isn't it?" Mr. Magee rejoiced that she
took so calm a view of it. "They searched the
room, of course. And they found the money.
They're on top now. But I'm going — "
He stopped. For he had seen her face. She
— taking a calm view of it? No, indeed. Billy
Magee saw that she was furiously, wildly angry.
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 237
He remembered always having written it down
that beautiful women were even more beautiful
in anger. How, he wondered, had he fallen into
"Please do not bore me," she said through her
teeth, "with any further recital of what you ^are
going' to do. You seem to have a fatal facility
in that line. Your record of accomplishment is
pathetically weak. And — oh, what a fool I've
been! I believed. Even after last night, I be-
No, she was not going to cry. Hers was no
mood for tears. What said the librettist?
"There is beauty in the roaring of the gale, and
the tiger when a-lashing of his tail." Such was
the beauty of a woman in anger. And nothing
to get enthusiastic about, thought Mr. Magee.
"I know," he said helplessly, "you're terribly
disappointed. And I don't blame you. But you
will find out that you've done me an injustice.
I'm going — "
"One thing," said she, smiling a smile that
could have cut glass, "you are going to do. I
know that you won't fail this time, because I
238 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
shall personally see you through with it. You're
going to stop making a fool of me."
"Tell me," pleaded Billy Magee. "Tell me
who you are — what this is all about. Can't you
see I'm working in the dark ? You must — "
She threw open the card-room door.
"An English officer," she remarked loudly,
stepping out into the other room, "taught the ad-
miral the game. At least, so he said. It added
so much romance to it in the eyes of the rocking-
chair fleet. Can't you see — India — ^the hot sun
— the Kipling local color— a silent, tanned, hand-
some man eternally playing solitaire on the porch
of the barracks ? Has the barracks a porch ?"
Roused, humiliated, baffled, Mr. Magee felt his
"We shall see what we shall see," he muttered.
"Why coin the inevitable into a bromide," she
Mr. Magee joined the group by the fire. Never
before in his life had he been so determined on
anything as he was now that the package of
money should return to his keeping. But how?
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 239
How trace through this maze of humans the
present holder of that precious bundle of collat-
eral ? He looked at Mr. Max, sneering his lemon-
colored sneer at the mayor's side; at the mayor
himself, nonchalant as the admiral being photo-
graphed ; at Bland, author of the Arabella fiction,
sprawling at ease before the fire; at the tawdry
Mrs. Norton, and at Myra Thornhill, who had
by her pleading the night before made him ridicu-
lous. Who of these had the money now? Who
but Cargan and Max, their faces serene, their
eyes eagerly on the preparations for lunch, their
plans for leaving Baldpate Inn no doubt already
And then Mr. Magee saw coming down the
stairs another figure — one he had forgot — Pro-
fessor Thaddeus Bolton, he of the mysterious
dialogue by the annex door. On the professor's
forehead was a surprising red scratch, and his
eyes, no longer hidden by the double convex
lenses, stood revealed a washed-out gray in the
light of noon.
"A most unfortunate accident," explained the
240 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
old man. "Most distressing. I have broken my
glasses. I am almost blind without them."
''How'd it happen, Doc?" asked Mr. Cargan
"I came into unexpected juxtaposition with an
open door," returned Professor Bolton. ''Stupid
of me, but I'm always doing it. Really, the agil-
ity displayed by doors in getting in my path is
"You and Mr. Max can sympathize with each
other," said Magee, "I thought for a moment
your injuries might have been received in the
Don't worry, Doc," Mr. Bland soothed him,
'**we'll all keep a weather eye out for reporters
that want to connect you up with the peroxide
The professor turned his Ineffectual gaze on
the haberdasher, and there was a startlingly ironic
smile on his face.
"I know, Mr. Bland," he said, "that my safety
is your dearest wish."
The Hermit of Baldpate announced that lunch
WOE IN NUMBER SEVEN 241^
was ready, and with the others Mr. Magee took
his place at the table. Food for thought was also
his. The spectacles of Professor Thaddeus Bolton
were broken. Somewhere in the scheme of things
those smashed lenses must fit. But where?
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN"
IT was past three o'clock. The early twilight
crept up the mountain, and the shadows be-
gan to lengthen in the great bare office of Bald-
pate Inn. In the red flicker of firelight Mr. Ma-
gee sat and pondered ; the interval since luncheon
had passed lazily; he was no nearer to guessing
which of Baldpate Inn's winter guests hugged
close the precious package. Exasperated, angry,
he waited for he knew not what, restless all the
while to act, but having not the glimmer of an
inspiration as to what his course ought to be.
He heard the rustle of skirts on the stair land-
ing, and looked up. Down the broad stairway,|
so well designed to serve as a show-window for
the sartorial triumphs of Baldpate's gay summer
people, came the tall handsome girl who had the
night before set all his plans awry. In the swift-
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 243;
moving atmosphere of the inn she had hitherto
been to Mr. Magee but a puppet of the shadows,
a figure more fictitious than real. Now for the
first time he looked upon her as a flesh-and-blood
girl, noted the red in her olive cheeks, the fire in
her dark eyes, and realized that her interest in
that package of money might be something more
than another queer quirk in the tangle of events.
She smiled a friendly smile at Magee, and took
the chair he offered. One small slipper beat a
discreet tattoo on the polished floor of Baldpate's
ofBce. Again she suggested to Billy Magee a
house of wealth and warmth and luxury, a house
where Arnold Bennett and the post-impression-
ists are often discussed, a house the head of which
becomes purple and apoplectic at the mention of
Colonel Roosevelt's name.
"Last night, Mr. Magee,'' she said, "I told you
frankly why I had come to Baldpate Inn. You
were good enough to say that you would help
me if you could. The time has come when you
can, I think."
"Yes?" answered Magee. His heart sank.
244 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I must confess that I spied this morning,"
she went on. "It was rude of me, perhaps. But
I think almost anything is excusable under the
circumstances, don't you? I witnessed a scene
in the hall above — Mr. Magee, I know who has
the two hundred thousand dollars !"
"You know?" cried Magee. His heart gave a
great bound. At last! And then— he stopped.
"I'm afraid I must ask you not to tell me," he
The girl looked at him in wonder. She was of
a type common in Magee's world — delicate,
finely- reared, sensitive. True, in her pride and
haughtiness she suggested the snow-capped
heights of the eternal hills. But at sight of those
feminine heights Billy Magee had always been
one to seize his alpenstock in a more determined
grip, and climb. Witness his attentions to the
supurb Helen Faulkner. He had a moment of
faltering. Here was a girl who at least did not
doubt him, who ascribed to him the virtues of a
gentleman, who was glad to trust in him. Should
he transfer his allegiance? No, he could hardly
do that now.
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 245
"You ask me not to tell you," repeated the girl
"That demands an explanation," replied Billy
Magee. "I want you to understand — to be cer-
tain that I would delight to help you if I could.
But the fact is that before you came I gave my
word to secure the package you speak of for —
another woman. I can not break my promise to
*T see," she answered. Her tone was cool.
"I'm very sorry," Magee went on. "But as a
matter of fact, I seem to be of very little service
to any one. Just now I would give a great deal
to have the information you were about to give
me. But since I could not use it helping you,
you will readily see that I must not listen. I'm
"I'm sorry, too," replied the girl. "Thank
you very much — for telling me. Now I must —
go forward — alone." She smiled unhappily.
"I'm afraid you must," answered Billy Magee.
On the stairs appeared the slim figure of the
other girl. Her great eyes were wistful, her face
was pale. She came toward them through the
246 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
red firelight. Mr. Magee saw what a fool he
had been to waver in his allegiance even for a
moment. For he loved her, wanted her, surely.
The snow-capped heights are inspiring, but far
more companionable is the brook that sparkles
in the valley.
"It's rather dull, isn't it?'* asked Miss Norton
of the Thornhill girl. By the side of the taller
woman she seemed slight, almost childish. "Have
you seen the pictures of the admiral, Miss Thorn-
hill? Looking at them is our one diversion."
"I do not care to see them, thank you," Myra
Thornhill replied, moving toward the stairs. "He
is a very dear friend of my father." She passed
up and out of sight.
Miss Norton turned away from the fire, and
Mr. Magee rose hastily to follow. He stood
close behind her, gazing down at her golden hair'
shimmering in the dark.
"I've just been thinking," he said lightly, "what
an absolutely ridiculous figure I must be in your
eyes, buzzing round and round like a bee in a bot-
tle, and getting nowhere at all. Listen — no one
has left the inn. While they stay, there's hope.
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 247'
Am I not to have one more chance — a chance to
prove to you how much I care?"
She turned, and even in the dusk he saw that
her eyes were wet.
"Oh, I don't know, I don't know," she whis-
pered. "I'm not angry any more. I'm just — at
sea. I don't know what to think — what to do.
Why try any longer? I think I'll go away — and
"You mustn't do that," urged Magee. They
came back into the firelight. "Miss Thornhill has
just informed me that she knows who has the
"Indeed," said the girl calmly, but her face had
"I didn't let her tell me, of course."
"Why not?" Oh, how maddening women
"Why not?" Magee's tone was hurt. "Be-
cause I couldn't use her information in getting
the money for you.'*
"You are still 'going to' get the money for
Maddening, certainly, as a rough-edged collar.
248 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Of — '' Magee began, but caught himself. No,
he would prate no more of 'going to*. "I'll not
ask you to believe it," he said, "until I bring it
to you and place it in your hand.'**
She turned her face slowly to his and lifted her
"I wonder," she said. "I wonder."
The firelight fell on her lips, her hair, her
eyes, and Mr. Magee knew that his selfish bach-
elorhood was at an end. Hitherto, marriage had
been to him the picture drawn by the pathetic
exiled master. "There are no more pleasant by-
paths down which you may wander, but the road
lies long and straight and dusty to the grave."
What if it were so? With the hand of a girl like
this in his, what if the pleasant by-paths of his
solitude did bear hereafter the "No Thorough-
fare" sign? Long the road might be, and he
would rejoice in its length ; dusty perhaps, but her
smile through the dust would make it all worth
while. He stooped to her.
"Give me, please," he said, "the benefit of the
doubt." It was a poor speech compared to what
was in his heart, but Billy Magee was rapidly
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 249
learning that most of the pretty speeches went
with puppets who could not feel.
Bland and Max came in from a brisk walk on
the veranda. The mayor of Reuton, who had
been dozing near the desk, stirred.
''Great air up here," remarked Mr. Max, rub-
bing his hands before the fire. "Ought to be
pumped down into the region of the white lights.
It sure would stir things up."
"It would put out the lights at ten p. u."
answered Mr. Magee, "and inculcate other
wholesome habits of living disastrous to the res-
Miss Norton rose and ascended the stairs. Still
the protesting Magee was at her heels. At the
head of the stair she turned.
"You shall have your final chance," she said.
"The mayor, Max and Bland are alone in the
office. I don't approve of eavesdropping at Bald-
pate in the summer — it has spoiled a lot of per-
fectly adorable engagements. But in winter it's
different. Whether you really want to help me
or not Tm sure I don't know, but if you do, the
conversation below now might prove of interest."
250 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I'm sure it would," Magee replied.
"Well, I have a scheme. Listen. Baldpate
Inn is located in a temperance county. That
doesn't mean that people don't drink here — it
simple means that there's a lot of mystery and ro-
mance connected with the drinking. Sometimes
those who follow the god of chance in the card-
room late at night grow thirsty. Now it hap-
pens that there is a trap-door in the floor of
the card-room, up which drinks are frequently
passed from the cellar. Isn't that exciting? A
hotel clerk who became human once in my pres-
ence told me ail about it. If you went into the
cellar and hunted about, you might find that door
and climb up into the card-room."
"A bully idea," agreed Mr. Magee. "I'll hurry
down there this minute. I'm more grateful than
you can guess for this chance. And this time — •
but you'll see."
He found the back stairs, and descended. In
the kitchen the hermit got in his path. -
"Mr. Magee," he pleaded, "I consider that, in
a way, I work for you here. I've got something
important to tell you. Just a minute — "
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 251
"Sorry," answered Magee, "but I can't possi-
bly stop now. In an hour I'll talk to you. Show
me the cellar door, and don't mention where I've
gone, there's a good fellow."
Mr. Peters protested that his need of talk was
urgent, but to no avail. Magee hurried to the cel-
lar, and with the aid of a box of matches found a
ladder leading to a dobr cut in the floor above. He
climbed through dust and cobwebs, unfastened
the catch, and pushed cautiously upward. In
another minute he was standing in the chill little
card-room. Softly he opened the card-room door
about half an inch, and put his ear to it.
The three men were grouped very close at
hand, and he heard Mr. Bland speaking in low
"I'm talking to you boys as a friend. The
show is over. There ain't no use hanging round,
for the concert — there won't be none. Go home
and get some clean collars and a square meal."
"If you think I'm going to be shook off by any
fairy story like that," said the mayor of Reuton,
"you're a child with all a child's touching faith."
252 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"All right," replied Mr. Bland, "I thought I'd
pass you the tip, that's all. It ain't nothing to
me what you do. But it's all over, and you've
lost out. I'm sorry you have — ^but I take Hay-
"Damn Hayden!" snarled the mayor. "It was
his idea to make a three-act play out of this thing.
He's responsible for this silly trip to Baldpate.
This audience we've been acting for — he let us
in for them."
"I know," said Bland. "But you can't deny
that Baldpate Inn looked like the ideal spot at
first. Secluded, off the beaten path, you know,
and all that."
"Yes," sneered the mayor, "as secluded as a
Sunday-school the Sunday before Christmas."
"Well, who could have guessed it?" went on
Mr. Bland. "As I say, I don't care what you do.
I just passed you the tip. I've got that nice little
package of the long green — I've got it where
you'll never find It. Yes, sir, it's returned to the
loving hands of little Joe Bland, that brought it
here first. It ain't going to roam no more. So
what's the use of your sticking around?"
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 253
"How did you get hold of it?" inquired Mr.
"I had my eye on this httle professor person,"
explained Mr. Bland. "This morning when
Magee went up the mountain I trailed the high-
brow to Magee's room. When I busted in, un-
announced by the butler, he was making his get-
away. I don't like to talk about what followed.
He's an old man, and I sure didn't mean to break
his glasses, nor scratch his dome of thought.
There's ideas in that dome go back to the time of
Anthony J. Chaucer. But — he's always talking
about that literature chair of his — why couldn't
he stay at home and sit in it ? Anyhow, I got the
bundle all right, all right. I wonder what the lit-
tle fossil wants with it."
"The Doc's glasses zvas broke," said Max, evi-
dently to the mayor of Reuton.
"Um-m," came Cargan's voice. "Bland, how
much do you make working for this nice kind
gentleman, Mr. Hayden?"
"Oh, about two thousand a year, with pick-
ings," replied Bland.
"Yes?" went on Mr. Cargan. "I ain't no
254 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Charles Dana Gibson with words. My talk's a
little rough and sketchy, I guess. But here's the
outline, plain as I can make it. Two thousand a
year from Hayden. Twenty thousand in two
seconds if you hand that package to me."
"No," objected Bland. "I've been honest —
after a fashion. I can't quite stand for that. I'm
working for Hayden."
"Don't be a fool," sneered Max.
"Of course," said the mayor, "I appreciate
your scruples, having had a few in my day my-
self, though you'd never think so to read the Star.
But look at it sensible. The money belongs to
me. If you was to hand it over you'd be just doing
plain justice. What right has Hayden on his
side? I did what was agreed — do I get my pay?
No. Who are you to defeat the ends of justice
this way? That's how you ought to look at it.
You give me what's my due — and you put twenty
thousand in your pocket by an honest act. Hay-
den comes. He asks for the bundle. You point
to the dynamited safe. You did your best."
"No," said Bland, but his tone was less firm.
"I can't go back on Hayden. No — it wouldn't — "
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 255
"Twenty thousand," repeated Cargan. "Ten
years' salary the way you're going ahead at pres-
ent. A lot of money for a young man. If I was
you I wouldn't hesitate a minute. Think.
What's Hayden ever done for you? He'll
throw you down some day, the way he's thrown
"I — I — don't know — " wavered Bland. Mr.
Magee, in the card- room, knew that Hayden's
emissary was tottering on the brink.
"You could set up in business," whined Mr.
Max. "Why, if I'd had that much money at
your age, I'd be a millionaire to-day."
"You get the package," suggested the mayor,
"take twenty thousand out, and slip the rest to
me. No questions asked. I guess there ain't no-
body mixed up in this affair will go up on the
housetops and shout about it when we get back'
"Well,—" began Bland. He was lost. Sud-
denly the quiet of Baldpate Mountain was as-
sailed by a loud pounding at the inn door, and a
voice crying, "Bland. Let me in."
"There's Hayden now," cried Mr. Bland.
2S6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"It ain't too late," came the mayor's voicCo
"You can do it yet. It ain't too late."
"Do what ?" cried Bland in a firm tone. "You
can't bribe me, Cargan." He raised his voice.
"Go round to the east door, Mr. Hayden." Then
he added, to Cargan: "That's my answer. I'm
going to let him in."
"Let him in," bellowed the mayor. "Let the
hound in. I guess I've got something to say to
There came to Magee's ears the sound of open-
ing doors, and of returning footsteps.
"How do you do, Cargan," said a voice new to
"Cut the society howdydoes," replied the
mayor hotly. "There's a little score to be settled
between me and you, Hayden. I ain't quite wise
to your orchid-in-the-buttonhole ways. I don't
quite follow them. I ain't been bred in the club
you hang around — they blackballed me when I
tried to get in. You know that. I'm a rough
rude man. I don't understand your system.
When I give my word, I keep it. Has that gone
out of style up on the avenue, where you live?"
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 257
"There are conditions — " began Hayden.
"The hell there are !" roared Cargan. "A man's
word's his word, and he keeps it to me, or I know
the reason why. You can't come down to the
City Hall with any new deal like this. I v/as to
have two hundred thousand. Why didn't I get
"Because," replied Hayden smoothly, "the — er
^ — ^little favor you were to grant me in return is to
be made useless by the courts."
"Can I help that?" the mayor demanded.
**Was there anything about that in the agree-
ment? I did my work. I want my pay. I'll
have it. Mister Hayden."
Hayden's voice was cool and even as he spoke
"Got the money, Joe?"
"Yes," Bland answered.
*'\Yell— we'd better wait, hadn't we?" Bland's
yoice was shaky.
"No. We'll take it and get out," answered
"I want to see you do it," cried Cargan. "If
258 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
you think I've come up here on a pleasure trip,
I got a chart and a pointer all ready for your
next lesson. And let me put you wise — this
nobby little idea of yours about Baldpate Inn is
the worst ever. The place is as full of people
as if the regular summer rates was being
"The devil it is!" cried Hayden. His voice
betrayed a startled annoyance.
"It hasn't worried me none," went on the
mayor. "They can't touch me. I own the prose-
cutor, and you know it. But it ain't going to do
you any good on the avenue if you're seen here
with me. Is it, Mr. Hayden?"
"The more reason," replied Hayden, "for get-
ting the money and leaving at once. I'm not
afraid of you, Cargan. I'm armed."
"I ain't," sneered the mayor. "But no ex-
quisite from your set with his little air-gun ever
scared me. You try to get away from here with
that bundle and you'll find yourself all tangled
up in the worst scrap that ever happened."
"Where's the money, Joe?" asked Hayden.
You won't wait — " Bland begged.
THE EXQUISITE MR. HAYDEN 259
"Wait to get my own money — I guess not.
Show me where it is."
"Remember," put in Cargan, "that money's
mine. And don't have any pipe dreams about the
law — the law ain't called into things of this sort
as a rule. I guess you'd be the last to call it.
You'll never get away from here with my
Mr. Magee opened the card-room door far-
ther, and saw the figure of the stranger Hayden
confronting the mayor. Mr. Cargan's title of
exquisite best described him. The newcomer
was tall, fair, fastidious in dress and manner. A
revolver gleamed in his hand.
"Joe," he said firmly, "take me to that money
"It's out here," replied Bland. He and Hay-
den disappeared through the dining-room door
into the darkness. Cargan and Max followed
Hot with excitement, Mr. Magee slipped from
his place of concealment. A battle fit for the
gods was in the air. He must be in the midst of
it — perhaps again in a three-cornered fight it
26o SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
would be the third party that would emerge vic-
In the darkness of the dining-room he bumped
into a limp clinging figure. It proved to be the
Hermit of Baldpate Mountain.
"I got to talk to you, Mr. Magee," he whis-
pered in a frightened tremolo. "I got to have a
word with you this minute."
"Not now," cried Magee, pushing him aside.
The hermit wildly seized his arm.
"No, now," he said. "There's strange goings-
on, here, Mr. Magee. I got something to tell you
— about a package of money I found in the
Mr. Magee stood very still. Beside him in the
darkness he heard the hermit's excited breathing.
THE SIGN OF THE OPEN WINDOW
UNDECIDED, Mr. Magee looked toward
the kitchen door, from behind which came
the sound of men's voices. Then he smiled,
turned and led Mr. Peters back into the office.
The Hermit of Baldpate fairly trembled with
"Since I broke in on you yesterday morning,"
he said in a low tone as he took a seat on the edge
of a chair, "one thing has followed another so
fast that I'm a little dazed. I can't just get the
full meaning of it all."
"You have nothing on me there, Peters,"
Magee answered. "I can't either."
"Well," went on the hermit, "as I say, through
all this downpour of people, including women,
I've hung on to one idea. I'm working for you.
You give me my wages. You're the boss. That's
262 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
why I feel I ought to give what information I
got to you."
"Yes, yes/' Mr. Magee agreed impatiently.
"Where you find women," Peters continued,
"there you find things beyond understanding.
History — "
Get to the point."
Well — yes. This afternoon I was looking
round through the kitchen, sort of reconnoitering,
you might say, and finding out what I have to
work with, for just between us, when some of
this bunch goes I'll easily be persuaded to come
back and cook for you. I was hunting round in
the big refrigerator with a candle, thinking may-
be some little token of food had been left over
from last summer's rush — something in a can
that time can not wither nor custom stale, as the
poet says — and away up on the top shelf, in the
darkest corner, I found a little package."
"Quick, Peters," cried Magee, "where is that
"I'm coming to that," went on the hermit, not
to be hurried. "What struck me first about the
THE OPEN WINDOW 263
thing was it didn't have any dust on it. *Aha/ I
says, or words to that effect. I opened it. What
do you think was in it?"
"I don't have to think — I know," said Magee.
"Money. In the name of heaven, Peters, tell
me where you've got the thing."
"Just a minute, Mr. Magee. Let me tell it
my way. You're right. There was money in
that package. Lots of it. Enough to found a
university, or buy a woman's gowns for a year.
I was examining it careful-like when a shadow
came in the doorway. I looked up — '^
"Who?" asked Magee breathlessly.
"That little blinky-eyed Professor Bolton was
standing there, most owlish and interested. He
came into the refrigerator. *That package you
have in your hand, Peters,' he says, ^belongs to
me. I put it in cold storage so it would keep.
I'll take it now.' Well, Mr. Magee, I'm a peace-
ful man. I could have battered that professor
into a learned sort of jelly if I'd wanted to. But
I'm a great admirer of Mr. Carnegie, on account
of the library, and I go in for peace. I knew it
wasn't exactly the thing, but — "
'264 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"You gave him the package?"
"That's hardly the way I would put it, Mr.
Magee. I made no outcry or resistance when he
took it. T'm just a cook/ I says, 'in this house.
I ain't the trusted old family retainer that retains
its fortunes like a safety deposit vault.' So I let
go the bundle. It was weak of me, I know, but
I sort of got the habit of giving up m.oney, being
married so many years."
"Peters," said Mr. Magee, "I'm sorry your
grip was so insecure, but I'm mighty glad you
came to me with this matter."
"He told me I wasn't to mention it to any-
body," replied the hermit, "but as I say, I sort
of look on it that we were here first, and if our
guests get to chasing untold wealth up and down
the place, we ought to let each other in on it."
"Correct," ansvv^ered Magee. "You are a val-
uable man, Peters. I want you to know that I
appreciate the way you have acted in this affair.'*
Four shadowy figures tramped in through the
dining-room door. "I should say," he continued,
"that the menu you propose for dinner will
prove most gratifying."
THE OPEN WINDOW 265
''What — oh — ^yes, sir," said Peters. "Is that
"Quite," smiled Magee. "Unless — just a min-
ute, this may concern you — on my word, there's
another new face at Baldpate."
He stood up, and in the light of the fire met
Hayden. Now he saw that the face of the latest
comer was scheming and weak, and that under
a small blond mustache a very cruel mouth
sought to hide. The stranger gazed at Magee
with an annoyance plainly marked.
"A friend of mine — Mr. — er — Downs, Mr.
Magee," muttered Bland.
"Oh, come now," smiled Magee. "Let's tell
our real names. I heard you greeting your friend
a minute ago. How are you, Mr. Hayden?"
He held out his hand. Hayden looked him
angrily in the eyes.
"Who the devil are you?" he asked.
"Do you mean," said Magee, "that you didn't
catch the name. It's Magee — William Hallowell
Magee. I hold a record hereabouts, Mr. Hayden.
I spent nearly an hour at Baldpate Inn — alone.
You see, I was the first of our amiable little party
266 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
to arrive. Let me make you welcome. Are you
staying to dinner ? You must."
'I'm not," growled Hayden.
'Don't believe him, Mr. Magee," sneered the
mayor, "he doesn't always say what he means.
He's going to stay, all right."
"Yes, you'd better, Mr. Hayden," advised
"Huh — delighted, I'm sure," snapped Hayden,
He strolled over to the wall, and in the light of
the fire examined a picture nonchalantly.
"The pride of our inn," Mr. Magee, follow-
ing, explained pleasantly, "the admiral. It is
within these very walls in summer that he plays
his famous game of solitaire."
Hayden wheeled quickly, and looked Magee in
the eyes. A flush crossed his face, leaving it
paler than before. He turned away without
"Peters," said Magee, "you heard what
Mr. Hayden said. An extra plate at dinner,
please. I must leave you for a moment, gentle-
men." He saw that their eyes followed him
THE OPEN WINDOW 267
eagerly — full of suspicion, menacing. "We shall
all meet again, very shortly."
Hayden slipped quickly between Magee and
the stairs. The latter faced him smilingly, re-
flecting as he did so that he could love this man
"Who are you?" said Hayden again, "What
is your business here?"
Magee laughed outright, and turned to the
"How unfortunate," he said, "this gentleman
does not know the manners and customs of Bald-
pate in winter. Those are questions, Mr. Hay-
den, that we are never impolite enough to ask of
one another up here." He moved on toward the
stairs, and reluctantly Hayden got out of his
(path. "I am very happy," he added, "that you
'are to be with us at dinner. It will not take you
long to accustom yourself to our ways, I'm sure."
He ran up the stairs and passed through num-
ber seven out upon the balcony. Trudging
through the snow, he soon sighted the room of
Professor Bolton. And as he did so, a little
268 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
shiver that was not due to atmospheric conditions
ran down his spine. For one of the professor's
windows stood wide open, bidding a welcome to
the mountain storm. Peters had spoken the truth.
Once more that tight Httle, right Httle package
was within Mr. Magee's ken.
He stepped through the open window, and
closed it after him. By the table sat Professor
Bolton, wrapped in coats and blankets, reading
by the light of a solitary candle. The book was
held almost touching his nose — a reminder of the
spectacles that were gone. As Magee entered
the old man looked up, and a very obvious ex-
pression of fright crossed his face.
"Good evening. Professor," said Magee easily.
"Don't you find it rather cool with the window
"Mr. Magee," replied the much wrapped gen-
tleman, "I am that rather disturbing progressive
— a fresh air devotee. I feel that God's good air
was meant to be breathed, not barricaded from
"Perhaps," suggested Magee, "I should have
left the window open ?"
THE OPEN WINDOW 269
The old man regarded him narrowly.
"I have no wish to be inhospitable, " he replied.
''But — if you please — "
"Certainly," answered Magee. He threw open
the window. The professor held, up his book.
"I was passing the time before dinner with my
pleasant old companion, Montaigne. Mr. Magee,
have you ever read his essay on liars?"
"Never," said Magee. "But I do not blame
you for brushing up on it at the present time,
Professor. I have come to apologize. Yester-
day morning I referred in a rather unpleasant
way to a murder in the chemical laboratory at
one of our universities. I said that the professor
of chemistry was missing. This morning^s pa-
per, which I secured from Mr. Peters, informs me
that he has been apprehended."
"You need not have troubled to tell me," said
the old man. He smiled his bleak smile.
"I did you an injustice," went on Magee.
"Let us say no more of it," pleaded Professor
Mr. Magee walked about the room. Warily
the professor turned so that the other was at no
270 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
instant at his back. He looked so helpless, so
little, so ineffectual, that Mr. Magee abandoned
his first plan of leaping upon him there in the
silence. By more subtle means than this must his
purpose be attained.
"I suppose," he said, "your love of fresh air
accounts for the strolls on the balcony at all
hours of the night?"
The old man merely blinked at him.
"I mustn't stop,'' Magee continued. "I just
wanted to make my apology, that's all. It was
unjust of me. Murder — that is hardly in your
line. By the way, were you by any chance in my
room this morning, Professor Bolton?"
"Pardon me," remarked the professor at last,
"if I do not answer. In this very essay on — on
liars, Montaigne has expressed it so well. 'And
how much is a false speech less sociable than
silence.' I am a sociable man."
"Of course," smiled Magee. He stood look-
ing down at the frail old scholar before him, and
considered. Of what avail a scuffle there in that
chill room? The package was no doubt safely
THE OPEN WINDOW 2^t
hidden in a corner he could not quickly find. No,
he must wait, and watch.
"Good-by, until dinner," he said, "and may you
find much in your wise companion's book to jus-
tify your conduct."
He went out through the open window, and in
another moment stood just outside Miss Nor-
ton's room. She put a startled head out at his
"Oh, it's you," she said. "I can't invite you
in. You might learn terrible secrets of the dress-
ing-table — mamma is bedecking herself for din-
ner. Has anything happened ?"
"Throw something over your head, Juliet,"
smiled Magee, "the balcony is waiting for you."
She was at his side in a moment, and they
[walked briskly along the shadowy white floor.
"I know who has the money," said Magee
softly. "Simply through a turn of luck, I know.
I realize that my protestations of what I am go-
ing to do have bored you. But it looks very
much to me as if that package would be in your
hands very soon."
She did not reply.
272 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"And when I have got it, and have given it to
you — if I do/' he continued, "what then?"
"Then," she answered, "I must go away-^
very quickly. And no one must know, or they;
will try to stop me."
"And after that?"
"The deluge," she laughed without mirth.
Up above them the great trees of Baldpate
Mountain waved their black arms constantly as
though sparring with the storm. At the foot of
the buried roadway they could see the lamps of
Upper Asquewan Falls; under those lamps pro-
saic citizens were hurrying home with the supper
groceries through the night. And not one of
those citizens was within miles of guessing that
up on the balcony of Baldpate Inn a young man
had seized a young woman's hand, and was say-
ing wildly: "Beautiful girl — I love you."
Yet that was exactly what Billy Magee was
doing. The girl had turned her face away.
"You've known me just two days," she said.
"If I can care this much in two days," he said,
"think — but that's old, isn't it? Sometime soon
I'm going to say to you: *Whose girl are you?'
THE OPEN WINDOW 273
and youVe going to loolc up at me with a lit-
tle heaven for two in your eyes and say: ^Fm
Billy Magee's girl.' So before we go any further
I must confess everything — I must tell you who
this Billy Magee is — this man you're going to
admit you belong to, my dear."
"You read the future glibly," she replied. "Are
your prophecies true, I wonder?"
"Absolutely. Some time ago — on my soul, it
was only yesterday — I asked if you had read a
certain novel called The Lost Limousine, and
you said you had, and that — it wasn't sincere.
Well, I wrote it—"
'Oh !" cried the girl.
'Yes," said Magee, "and I've done others like
it. Oh, yes, my muse has been a nouveau riche
lady in a Worth gown, my ambition a big red
motor-car. I've been a 'scramble a cent, mister'
troubadour beckoning from the book-stalls. It
was good fun writing those things, and it
brought me more money than was good
for me. I'm not ashamed of them; they
were all right as a beginning in the game.
But the other day — I thought an advertisement
274 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
did the trick — I turned tired of that sort, and I
decided to try the other kind — ^the real kind. I
thought it was an advertisement that did it — ^but
I see now it was because you were just a few
"Don't tell me," whispered the girl, "that you
came up here to — ^to — "
"Yes," smiled Magee, "I came up here to for-
get forever the world's giddy melodrama, the
wild chase for money through deserted rooms,
shots in the night, cupid in the middle distance.
I came here to do — literature — if it's in me to
The girl leaned limply against the side of Bald-
"Oh, the irony of it !" she cried.
"I know," he said, "it's ridiculous. I think all
this is meant just for — ^temptation. I shall be
firm. I'll remember your parable of the blind
girl — and the lamp that was not lighted. I'll do
the real stuff. So that when you say — as you
certainly must some day — -T'm Billy Magee's
girl' you can say it proudly."
T'm sure," she said softly, "that if I ever do
THE OPEN WINDOW 275
say it — oH, no, I didn't say I would" — for he had
seized her hands quickly — "if I ever do say it — it
will certainly be proudly. But now — you don't
even know my name — my right one. You don't
know what I do, nor where I come from, nor
what I want with this disgusting bundle of
money. I sort of feel, you know — that this is In
the air at Baldpate, even in the winter time. No
sooner have the men come than they begin to talk
of — love — to whatever girls they find here — on
this veiy balcony — down there under the trees.
And the girls listen, for — it's in the air, that's all.
Then autumn comes, and everybody laughs, and
forgets. May not our autumn come — when I
go away ?"
"Never," cried Magee. "This is no summer
hotel affair to me. It's a real in winter and
summer love, my dear — in spring and fall — and
when you go away, I'm going too, about ten feet
"Yes," she laughed, "they talk that way at
Baldpate — the last weeks of summer. It's part
of the game." They had come to the side of the
hotel on which was the annex, and the girl
2^6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
stopped and pointed. "Look!" she whispered
In a window of the annex had appeared for a
moment a flickering yellow light. But only for a
"I know," said Mr. Magee. "There's some-
body in there. But that isn't important in com-
parison. This is no summer affair, dear. Look
to the thermometer for proof. I love you. And
when you go away, I shall follow."
''And the book—"
"I have found better inspiration than Bald-
They walked along for a time in silence.
"You forget," said the girl, "you only know
who has the money."
"I will get it," he answered confidently.
"Something tells me I will. Until I do, I am
content to say no more."
"Good-by," said the girl. She stood in the
window of her room, while a harsh voice called
"That you, dearie?" from inside. "And I may
add," she smiled, "that in my profession— -a fol-
lowing is considered quite — desirable."
THE OPEN WINDOW 277
She disappeared, and Mr. Magee, after a few
minutes in his room, descended again to the office.
In the center of the room, EHjah Quimby and
'Hayden stood face to face.
What is it, Quimby?" asked Magee.
'I just ran up to see how things were going,"
Quimby repHed, "and I find him here."
"Our latest guest," smiled Magee.
"I was just reminding Mr. Hayden," Quimby
said, his teeth set, an angry light in his eyes,
"that the last time we met he ordered me from
his office. I told you, Mr. Magee, that the Su-
burban Railway once promised to make use of
my invention. Then Mr. Kendrick went away — •
and this man took charge. When I came around
to the offices again — he laughed at me. When I
came the second time, he called me a loafer and
ordered me out."
He paused, and faced Hayden again.
I "I've grown bitter, here on the mountain," he
said, "as I've thought over what you and men
like you said to me — as I've thought of what
might have been — and what was — yes, I've
grown pretty bitter. Time after time I've gone
278 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
over In my mind that scene in your office. As
I've sat here thinking you've come to mean to me
all the crowd that made a fool of me. You've
come to mean to me all the crowd that said *The
public be damned' in m.y ear. I haven't ever for-
got — how you ordered me out of your office."
"Well?" asked Hayden.
"And now," Ouimby went on, "I find you tres-
passing in a hotel left In my care — the tables are
turned. I ought to show you the door. I ought
to put you out."
"Try it," sneered Hayden.
"No," answered Quimby, "I ain't going to do
it. Maybe it's because I've grown timid, brood-
ing over my failure. And maybe it's because I
know who's got the seventh key."
Hayden made no reply. No one stirred for a
minute, and then Quimby moved away^ and went
out through the dining-room door.
THE seventh key! Mr. Magee thrilled at
the mention of it. So EHjah Quimby knew«
the identity and the mission of the man who
hid in the annex. Did any one else? Magee
looked at the broad acreage of the mayor's face,
at the ancient lemon of Max's, at Bland's, fright-
ened and thoughtful, at Hayden's, concerned but
smiling. Did any one else know? Ah, yes, of
course. Down the stairs the professor of Com-
parative Literature felt his way to food.
"Is dinner ready?" he asked, peering about.
The candles flickered weakly as they fought
the stronger shadows; winter roared at the win-
dows; somewhere above a door crashed shut
Close to its final scene drew the drama at Bald-
pate Inn. Mr. Magee knew it, he could not have
told why. The others seemed to know it, too. In
silence they waited while the hermit scurried
28o SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
along his dim way preparing the meal. In silence
they sat while Miss Norton and her mother de-
scended. Once there was a little flurry of inter-
est when Miss Thornhill and Hayden met at the
foot of the stairs.
"Alyra!" Hayden cried. *'In heaven's name —
what does this mean?''
"Unfortunately," said the girl, *T know — all
And Hayden fell back into the shadows.
Finally the attitude of the hermit suggested
that the dinner was ready.
"I guess you might as well sit down," he re-
marked. "It's all fixed, what there is to fix.
This place don't need a cook, it needs a commis-
"Peters," reproved Magee. "That's hardly
courteous to our guests."
"Living alone on the mountain," replied the
hermit from the dining-room door, "you get to
have such a high regard for the truth you can't
put courtesy first. You want to, but you haven't
The winter guests took their places at the table.
TABLE TALK 281
and the second December dinner at Baldpate Inn
got under way. But not so genially as on the
previous night did it progress. On the faces of
those about him Mr. Magee noted worry and,
suspicion; now and again menacing cold eyes
were turned upon him ; evidently first in the
thoughts of those at table was a little package
rich in treasure; and evidently first in the
thoughts of most of them, as the probable holder
of that package, was Mr. Magee himself. Sev-
eral times he looked up to find Max's cat-like
eyes upon him, sinister and cruel behind the in-
congruous gold-rimmed glasses; several times he
saw Hayden's eyes, hostile and angry, seek his
face. They were desperate; they would stop at
nothing; Mr. Magee felt that as the drama drew
to its close they saw^ him and him alone between
them and their golden desires.
"Before I came up here to be a hermit," re-
marked Cargan contemporaneously with the re-
moval of the soup, ''which I may say in passing
I ain't been able to be with any success owing to
the popularity of the sport on Baldpate Moun-
tain, there was never any candles on the table
282 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
where I et. No, sir. I left them to the people
up on the avenue — to Mr. Hayden and his kind
that like to work in dim surroundings — I was
always strong for a bright light on my food.
What I'm afraid of is that I'll get the habit up
here, and will be wanting Charlie to set out a
silver candelabrum with my lager. Candles'd be
quite an innovation at Charlie's, wouldn't they,
"Too swell for Charlie's," commented Mr.
Max. "Except after closing hours. I've seen
'em in use there then, but the idea wasn't glory
"I hope you don't dislike the candles, Mr.
Cargan," remarked Miss Norton. "They add
such a lot to the romance of the affair, don't you
think? I'm terribly thrilled by all this. The rat-
tling of the windows, and the flickering light —
two lines of a poem keep running through my
" 'My lord he followed after one who whispered
in his ear —
The weeping of the candles and the wind is all I
TABLE TALK 283
I don't know who the lord was, nor what he fol-
lowed — perhaps the seventh key. But the weep-
ing candles and the wind seem so romantic — ;and
so like Baldpate Inn to-night."
"If I had a daughter your age," commented
Cargan, not unkindly, "she'd be at home reading
Laura Jean Libbey by the fire, and not chasing
after romance on a mountain."
"That would be best for her, I'm sure," replied
the girl sweetly. "For then she wouldn't be like-
ly to find out things about her father that would
"Dearie!" cried Mrs. Norton. No one else
spoke, but all looked at the mayor. He was bus-
ily engaged with his food. Smiling his amuse-
ment, Mr. Magee sought to direct the conversa-
tion into less personal channels.
"We hear so much about romance, especially
since its widely advertised death," he said. "And
to every man I ever met, it meant something dif-
ferent, Mr. Cargan, speaking as a broad-minded
man of the. world — what does romance mean to
284 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
The mayor ran his fingers through his graying
hair, and considered seriously.
"Romance," he reflected. "Well, I ain't much
on the talk out of books. But here's what I
see when you say that word to me. It's the night
before election, and I'm standing in the front
window of the little room on Main Street where
the boys can always find me. Down the street I
hear the snarl and rumble of bands, and pretty
soon I see the yellow flicker of torches, like the
flicker of that candle, and the bobbing of banners.
And then — the boys march by. All the boys!
Pat Doherty, and Bob Larsen, and Matt Sanders
— all the boys! And when they get to my win-
dow they wave their hats and cheer. Just a fat
old man in that window, but they'll go to the
pavement with any guy that knocks him.
They're loyal. They're for me. And so they
march by — cheering and singing — all the boys —
just for me to see and hear. Well — that — that's
romance to me."
Tower," translated Mr. Magee.
'Yes, sir," cried the mayor. "I know I've got
TABLE TALK 265
them. All the reformers in the world can't spoil
my thrill then. They're mine. I guess old Na-
poleon knew that thrill. I guess he was the great-
est romancer the world ever knew. When he
marched over the mountains with his starving
bunch — and looked back and saw them in rags
and suffering — for him — well I reckon old Nap
was as close to romance then as any man ever
''I wonder," answered Mr. Magee. It came to
him suddenly that in each person's definition of
this intangible thing might lie exposed something
of both character and calling. At the far end of
the table Mrs. Norton's lined tired face met his
gaze. To her he put his question.
"Well," she answered, and her voice seemed
softer than its wont, "I ain't thought much of that
word for a good many years now. But when I
do — say, I seem to see myself sitting on ouf
porch back home — thirty years ago. I've got on
a simple little muslin dress, and I'm slender as
Elsie Janis, and the color in my cheeks is — well,
it's the sort that Norton likes. And my hair — *
but — I'm thinking of him, of Norton. He's told
286 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
me he wants to make me happy for life, and I've
about decided I'll let him try. I see him — com-
ing up our front walk. Coming to call on me —
have I mentioned I've got a figure — a real sweet
figure? That's about what romance means to
"Youth, dear?" asks Miss Norton gently.
"That's it, dearie," answered the older woman
For a time those about the table sat in silence,
picturing no doubt the slender figure on the steps
of that porch long ago. Not without a humorous
sort of pity did they glance occasionally toward
the woman whom Norton had begged to make
happy. The professor of Comparative Litera-
ture was the first to break the silence.
The dictionary," he remarked academically,
would define romance as a species of fictitious
writing originally composed in the Romance dia-
lects, and afterward in prose. But — the diction-
ary is prosaic, it has no soul. Shall I tell you
what romance means to me? I will. I see a
man toiling in a dim laboratory, where there are
strange fires and stranger odors. Night and day^
TABLE TALK 287
he experiments, the love of his kind in his eyes, a
desire to help in his heart. And then — the golden
moment — the great moment in that quiet dreary
cell — the moment of the discovery. A serum, a
formula — what not. He gives it to the world,
and a few of the sick are well again, and a few of
the sorrowful are glad. Romance means neither
youth nor power to me. It means — service."
He bent his dim old eyes on his food, and Mr.
Magee gazed at him with a new wonder. Odd
sentiments these from an old man who robbed
fireplaces, held up hermits, and engaged in mid-
night conferences by the annex door. More than
ever Magee was baffled, enthralled, amused. Now
Mr. Max leered about the table and contributed
his unsavory bit.
"Funny, ain't it," he remarked, "the different
things the same word means to a bunch of folks.
Say romance to me, and I don't see no dim labo-
ratory. I don't see nothing dim. I see the bright-
est lights in the world, and the best food, and
somebody, maybe, dancing the latest freak dance
in between the tables. And an orchestra playing
in the distance — classy dames all about — a taxi
288 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
clicking at the door. And me sending word to
the chauffeur 'Let her click till the milk carts
rumble — I can pay.' Say — that sure is romance
''Mr. Hayden," remarked Magee, "are we to
hear from you?"
Hayden hesitated, and looked for a moment
into the black eyes of Myra Thornhill.
"My idea has often been contradicted," he
said, keeping his gaze on the girl, "it may be
again. But to me the greatest romance in the
world is the romance of money making — dollar
piling on dollar in the vaults of the man who
started with a shoe-string, and hope, and nerve.
I see him fighting for the first thousand — and
then I see his pile growing, slowly at first — faster
— faster — faster — until a motor-car brings him
to his office, and men speak his name with awe
in the streets."
"Money," commented Miss Thornhill con-
temptuously. "What an idea of romance for a
"I did not expect," replied Hayden, "that my
definition would pass unchallenged. My past ex-
TABLE TALK 289
periences — " he looked meaningly at the girl —
"had led me to be prepared for that But it is
my definition — I spoke the truth. You must give
me credit for that."
''I ain't one to blame you," sneered Cargan,
"^'for wanting it noticed when you do side-step a
lie. Yes, I certainly — "
See here, Cargan," blazed Hayden.
Yes, you did speak the truth," put in Miss
Thornhill hastily. "You mentioned one word
in your definition — it was a desecration to drag
it in — hope. For me romance means only — hope.
And I'm afraid there are a pitiful number in the
world to whom it means the same.'*
"We ain't heard from the young woman who
started all this fuss over a little word," Mr. Car-
gan reminded them.
"That's right, dearie," said Mrs. Norton. "You
got to contribute."
"Yes," agreed the girl with the "locks crisped
like golden wire," "I will. But it's hard. One's
ideas change so rapidly. A moment ago if you
had said romance to me, I might have babbled of
shady corners, of whisperings pn the stair, of
290 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
walks down the mountain in the moonlight — or
even on the hotel balcony." She smiled gaily
at Magee. "Perhaps to-morrow, too, the word
might mean such rapturous things to me. But to-
night — life is too real and earnest to-night. Serv-
ice — Professor Bolton was right — service is often
romance. It may mean the discovery of a serum
— it may mean so cruel a thing as the blighting of
another's life romance." She gazed steadily at
the stolid Cargan. "It may mean putting an end
forever to those picturesque parades past the win-
dow of the little room on Main Street — the room
where the boys can always find the mayor of
Still she gazed steadily into Cargan's eyes. And
with an amused smile the mayor gazed back.
"You wouldn't be so cruel as that," he assured
her easily; '^a nice attractive girl like you."
The dinner was at an end ; without a word the
sly little professor rose from the table and hur-
riedly ascended the stairs. Mr. Magee watched
him disappear, and resolved to follow quickly on
his heels. But first he paused to give his owr»
version of the word under discussion.
TABLE TALK 291
''Strange," he remarked, *'that none of you
gets the picture I do. Romance — it is here — at
your feet in Baldpate Lm. A man climbs the
mountain to be alone with his thoughts, to forget
the melodrama of life, to get away from the
swift action of the world, and meditate. He is
alone — for very near an hour. Then a telephone
bell tinkles, and a youth rises out of the dark to
prate of a lost Arabella, and haberdashery. A
shot rings out, as the immemorial custom with
shots, and in comes a professor of Comparative
Literature, with a perforation in his derby hat.
A professional hermit arrives to teach the ama-
teur the fine points of the game. A charming
maid comes in — too late for breakfast — ^but in
plenty of time for walks on the balcony in the
moonlight. The mayor of a municipality conde-
scends to stay for dinner. A battle in the snow
ensues. There is a weird talk of- — a sum of
money. More guests arrive. Dark hints of a
seventh key. Why, bless you, you needn't stir
from Baldpate Inn in search of your romance."
He crossed the floor hastily, and put one foot
on the lower step of Baldpate's grand stairway.
292 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
fie kept it there. For from the shadows of the
landing Professor Bolton emerged, his blasted
derby once more on his head, his overcoat but-
toned tight, his ear-muffs in place, his traveling-
bag and green umbrella in tow.
"What, Professor," cried Magee, "you're leav-
Now, truly, the end of the drama had come.
Mr. Magee felt his heart beat wildly. What was
the end to be? What did this calm departure
mean ? Surely the little man descending the stair
was not, Daniel-like, thrusting himself into this
lion's den with the precious package in his pos-
"Yes,^' the old man was saying slowly. "I am
about to leave. The decision came suddenly. I
am sorry to go. Certainly I have enjoyed these
"See here, Doc," said Mr. Bland, uneasily feel-
ing of his purple tie, "you're not going back and
let them reporters have another fling at you ?"
"1 fear I must," replied the old man. "My
duty calls. Yes, they will hound me. I shall hear
much of peroxide blondes. I shall be asked again
TABLE TALK 293
to name the ten greatest in history, — a difficult,
not to say dangerous task. But I must face the
— er — music, as the vulgar expression goes. I
bid you good-by, Mr. Bland. We part friends, I
am sure. Again be comforted by the thought
that I do not hold the ruined derby against you.
Even though, as I have remarked with unpleasant
truth, the honorarium of a professor at our uni-
versity is not large."
He turned to Magee.
"I regret more than I can say,'* he continued,
"parting from you. My eyes fell upon you first
on entering this place — we have had exciting
times together. My dear Miss Norton — know-
ing y^u has refreshed an old man's heart. I
might compare you to another with yellow locks
— ^but I leave that to my younger — er — col-
leagues. Mr. Cargan — good-by. My acquaint-
ance with you I shall always look back on — "
But the mayor of Reuton, Max and Bland
closed in on the old man.
"Now look here, Doc," interrupted Cargan.
"You're bluffing. Do you get me? You're try-
ing to put something over. I don't want to be
294 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
rough — I like you — but I got to get a glimpse at
the inside of that satchel. And I got to examine
your personal make-up a bit."
"Dear, dear,'' smiled Professor Bolton, "yots
don't think I would steal? A man in my posi-
tion? Absurd. Look through my poor luggage
if you desire. You will find nothing but the
usual appurtenances of travel."
He stood docilely in the middle of the floor, and
blinked at the group around him.
Mr. Magee waited to hear no more. It was
quite apparent that this wise little man carried
no package wildly sought by Baldpate's winter
guests. Quietly and quickly Magee disappeared
up the broad stair, and tried the professor's door.
It was locked. Inside he could hear a window
banging back and forth in the storm. He ran
through number seven and out upon the snow-
There he bumped full into a shadowv figure
hurrying in the opposite direction.
A MAN FROM THE DARK
FOR fully five seconds Mr. Magee and the
man with whom he had collided stood fac-
ing each other on the balcony. The identical
moon of the summer romances now hung in the
sky, and in its white glare Baldpate Mountain
glittered like a Christmas-card. Suddenly the
wind broke a small branch from one of the near-
by trees and tossed it lightly on the snow beside
the two men — as though it were a signal for bat-
"A lucky chance," said Mr. Magee. "You're a
man IVe been longing to meet. Especially since
the professor left his window open this after-
"Indeed," replied the other calmly. "May I
ask what you want of me?"
"Certainly." Mr. Magee laughed. "A little
296 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
package. I think it's in your pocket at this min-
ute. A package no bigger than a man's hand."
The stranger made no reply, but looked quickly
about, over his shoulder at the path along which
he had come, and then past Mr. Magee at the
road that led to freedom.
"I think it's in your pocket," repeated Mr.
Magee, "and I'm going to find out."
'T haven't time to argue with you," said the
holder of the seventh key. His voice was cold,
calculating, harsh. "Get out of my way and let
me pass. Or — "
''Or what?" asked Billy Magee.
He w^atched the man lunge toward him in the
moonlight. He saw the fist that had the night
before been the Waterloo of Mr. Max and the
mayor start on a swift true course for his head.
Quickly he dodged to one side and closed with
Back and forth through the snow they
ploughed, panting, grappling, straining. Mr.
Magee soon realized that his adversary was no
weakling. He was forced to call into play mus-
cles he had not used in what seemed ages — not
A MAN FROM THE DARK 297
since he sported of an afternoon in a rather
odorous college gymnasium. In moonlight and
shadow, up and down, they reeled, staggered,
stumbled, the sole jarring notes in that picture of
Baldpate on a quiet winter's night.
"You queered the game last time," muttered
the stranger. "But you'll never queer it again."
Mr. Magee saved his breath. Together they
crashed against the side of the inn. Together
they squirmed away, across the balcony to the
railing. Still back and forth, now in the moon-
light, now in shadow, wildly they fought.
Once Mr. Magee felt his feet slip from beneath
him, but caught himself in time. His strength
was going — surely — quickly. Then suddenly his
opponent seemed to weaken in his grip. With a
supreme effort Magee forced him down upon the
balcony floor, and tumbled on top of him. He
felt the chill of the snow under his knees, and its
wetness in his cuffs.
"Now," he cried to himself.
The other still struggled desperately. But his
struggle was without success. For deftly Billy
Magee drew from his pocket the precious pack-
298 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
age about which there had been so much debate
on Baldpate Mountain. He clasped it close, rose .
and ran. In another second he was inside num-
ber seven, and had lighted a candle at the blazing
Once more he examined that closely packed lit-
tle bundle; once more he found it rich in green-
backs. Assuredly it was the greatly desired
thing he had fought for the night before. He
had it again. And this time, he told himself, he
would not lose sight of it until he had placed it
in the hands of the girl of the station.
The dark shadow of the man he had just
robbed was hovering at his windows. Magee
turned hastily to the door. As he did so it op-
ened, and Hayden entered. He carried a pistol in
his hand; his face was hard, cruel, determined;
his usually expressionless eyes lighted with pleas-
ure as they fell on the package in Mr. Magee's
*Tt seems Fm just in time,'* he said, "to pre-
vent highway robbery."
"You think so?" asked Magee.
"See here, young man," remarked Hayden,
A MAN FROM THE DARK 299
glancing nervously over his shoulder, **I can't
v^aste any time in talk. Does that money belong
to you? No. Well, it does belong to me. I'm
going to have it. Don't think I'm afraid to shoot
to get it. The law permits a man to fire on the
thief v^ho tries to fleece him."
"The law, did you say ?" laughed Billy Magee.
"I wouldn't drag the law into this if I were you,
Mr. Hayden. I'm sure it has no connection with
events on Baldpate Mountain. You would be the
last to want its attention to be directed here. I've
got this money, and I'm going to keep it."
Hayden considered a brief moment, and then
swore under his breath.
"You're right," he said. "Fm not going to
shoot. But there are other ways, you whipper-
snapper — " He dropped the revolver into his
pocket and sprang forward. For the second time
within ten minutes Mr. Magee steadied himself
But Hayden stopped. Some one had entered
the room through the window behind Magee. In
the dim light of the single candle Magee saw
Hayden's face go white, his lip twitch, his eyes
300 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
glaze with horrible surprise. His arms fell limp--
ly to his sides.
"Good God ! Kendrick !" he cried.
The voice of the man with whom Billy Magee
had but a moment before struggled on the bal-
"Yes, Hayden. I'm back/'
Hayden wet his lips with his tongue.
"What — what brought you?" he asked, his
voice trailing off weakly on the last word.
"What brought me?" Suddenly, as from a
volcano that had long been cold, fire blazed up in
Kendrick's eyes. "If a man knew the road from
hell back home, what would it need to bring him
Hayden stood with his mouth partly open; al-
most a grotesque picture of terror he looked in
that dim light. Then he spoke, in an odd strained
tone, more to himself than to any one else.
"I thought you were dead," he said. "I told
myself you'd never come back. Over and over —
in the night — I told myself that. But all the time
- — I knew — I knew you'd come."
A cry — a woman's cry — sounded from just
A MAN FROM THE DARK 3or
outside the door of number seven. Into the room
came Myra Thornhill; quickly she crossed and
took Kendrick's hands in hers.
"David," she sobbed. "Oh, David— is it a
dream — a wonderful dream?"
Kendrick looked into her eyes, sheepishly at
first, then gladly as he saw what was in them.
For the light there, under the tears, was such as
no man could mistake. Magee saw it. Hayden
saw it too, and his voice was even more lifeless
when he spoke.
"Forgive me, David," he said. "I didn^t
mean — "
And then, as he saw that Kendrick did not lis-
ten, he turned and walked quietly into the bed-
room of number seven, taking no notice of Car-
gan and Bland, who, with the other winter guests
of Baldpate, now crowded the doorway leading
to the hall. Hayden closed the bedroom door.
Mr. Magee and the others stood silent, v/onder-
ing. Their answer came quickly — the sharp cry
of a revolver behind that closed door.
It was Mr. Magee who went into the bedroom.
The moonlight streamed in through the low win-
302 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
dows, and fell brightly on the bed. Across this
Hayden lay. Mr. Magee made sure. It was not'
a pleasant thing to make sure of. Then he took
the revolver from the hand that still clasped it,
covered the quiet figure on the bed, and stepped
back into the outer room.
"He — he has killed himself,'* he said in a low
voice, closing the bedroom door behind him.
There was a moment's frightened hush; then
the voice of Kendrick rang out :
"Killed himself? I don't understand. Why
should he do that? Surely not because — no — "
He looked questioningly into the white face of
the girl at his side; she only shook her head.
"Killed himself," he repeated, like a man wak-
ened from sleep. "I don't understand."
On tiptoe the amateur hermits of Baldpate
descended to the hotel office. Mr. Magee saw the
eyes of the girl of the station upon him, wide
with doubt and alarm. While the others gathered
in little groups and talked, he took her to one
"When does the next train leave for Reuton?"
he asked her.
A MAN FROM THE DARK 303
"In two hours — at ten-thirty," she replied.
"You must be on it," he told her. "With you
will go the two-hundred-thousand-dollar package.
I have it in my pocket now."
She took the news stolidly, and made no reply.
"Are you afraid?" asked Magee gently. "You
mustn't be. No harm can touch you. I shall stay
here and see that no one follows."
"I'm not afraid," she replied. "Just startled,
that's all. Did he — did he do it because you took
this money — because he was afraid of what
would happen ?"
"You mean Hayden?" Magee said. "No. This
money was not concerned in — his death. That
is an affair between Kendrick and him."
"I see," answered the girl slowly. "I'm so
glad it wasn't — the money. I couldn't bear it if
"May I call your attention," remarked Magee,
to the fact that the long reign of T'm going to' is
ended, and the rule of T've done it' has begun?
I've actually got the money. Somehow, it doesn't
seem to thrill you the way I thought it would."
"But it does — oh, it does!" cried the girl. "I
304 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
was upset — for a moment. It's glorious news.
And with you on guard here, I'm not afraid to
carry it away — down the mountain — and to Reu-
ton. I'll be with you in a moment, ready for the
She called Mrs. Norton and the two went
rather timidly up-stairs together. Mr. Magee
turned to his companions in the room, and men-
tally called tlieir roll. They were all there, the
professor, the mayor, Max, Bland, Peters, Miss
Thornhill, and the newcomer Kendrick, a man
prematurely old, grayed at the temples, and with
a face yellowed by fever. He and the professor
were talking earnestly together, and now the old
man came and stood before Magee.
"Mr. Magee," he said seriously, "I learn from
Kendrick that you have in your possession a cer-
tain package of money that has been much buf-
feted about here at Baldpate Inn. Now I suggest
— -no, I demand — "
"Pardon me. Professor," Mr. Magee inter-
rupted. "I have something to suggest — even to
demand. It is that you, and every one else pres-
A MAN FROM THE DARK 305
ent, select a chair and sit down. I suggest,
though I do not demand, that you pick comforta-
ble chairs. For the vigil that you are about to
begin will prove a long one."
**Wliat d'you mean?" asked the mayor of Reu-
ton, coming militantly to Professor Bolton's side.
Magee did not reply. Miss Norton and her
mother came down the stair, the former wrapped
in a great coat. She stood on the bottom step,
her cheeks flushed, her eyes ablaze. Mr. Magee,
going to her side, reflected that she looked
charming and wonderful, and wished he had time
to admire. But he hadn't. He took from one
pocket the pistol he had removed from the hand
of Hayden; from the other the celebrated pack-
age of money.
"I warn you all," he said, "I will shoot any one
who makes a move for this bundle. Miss Norton
is going to take it away with her — she is to catch
the ten-thirty train for Reuton. The train ar-
rives at its destination at twelve. Much as it
pains me to say it, no one will leave this room
3o6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"You — crook !" roared Cargan.
Mr. Magee smiled as he put the package in the
"Possibly," he said. "But, Mr. Cargan, the
blackness of the kettle always has annoyed the
pot. Do not be afraid," he added to the girl. "Ev-
ery gentleman in this room is to spend the evening
with me. You will not be annoyed in any way."
He looked around the menacing circle. "Go," he
said, "and may the gods of the mountain take
care of you."
The little professor of Comparative Literature
sitepped forward and stood pompously before
**One moment," he remarked. "Before you
steal this money in front of our very eyes, I want
to inform you who I am, and who I represent
"This is no time," replied Magee, "for light
talk on the subject of blondes."
"This is the time," said the professor warmly,
"for me to tell you that Mr. Kendrick here and
myself represent at Baldpate Inn the prosecuting
attorney of Reuton county. We — '*
A MAN FROM THE DARK 307
Cargan, big, red, volcanic, interrupted.
"Drayton," he bellowed. "Drayton sent you
here? The rat! The pup! Why, I made that
kid. I put him where he is. He won't dare
"Won't he?" returned Professor Bolton. "My
dear sir, you are mistaken. Drayton fully in-
tends to prosecute you on the ground that you ar-
ranged to pass Ordinance Number 45, granting
the Suburban Railway the privilege of merging
with the Civic, in exchange for this bribe of two
hundred thousand dollars."
^He won't dare," cried Cargan. "I made him."
'Before election," said the professor, "I be-
lieve he often insisted to you that he would do his
duty as he saw it."
"Of course he did," replied Cargan. "But
that's what they all say."
"He intends to keep his word."
The mayor of Reuton slid into the shadows.
"To think he'd do this thing to me," he whined.
"After all I've done for him."
"As I was saying, Mr. Magee," continued the
professor, "Mr. Kendrick and I came up here to
3o8 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
secure this package of money as evidence against
Cargan and — the man above. I speak with the
voice of the law when I say you must turn this
money over to me."
For answer Magee smiled at the girl.
"You'd better go now," he said. "It's a long
walk down the mountain."
"You refuse?" cried the professor.
"Absolutely — don't we. Miss Norton?" said
"Absolutely," she repeated bravely.
"Then, sir," announced the old man crush-
ingly, "you are little better than a thief, and this
girl is your accomplice."
"So it must look, on the face of it," assented
Magee. The girl moved to the big front door,
and Magee, with his eyes still on the room,
backed away until he stood beside her. He handed
her his key.
"I give you," he said, "to the gods of the
mountain. But it's only a loan — I shall surely
want you back. I can't follow ten feet behind,
as I threatened — it will be ten hours instead.
Good night, and good luck."
A MAN FROM THE DARK 309
She turned the key in the lock.
"Billy Magee," she whispered, "yours is a faith
beyond understanding. 'I shall tell the gods of
the mountain that I am to be — returned. Good
'night, you — dear.''
She went out quickly, and Magee, locking the
door after her, thrust the key into his pocket.
For a moment no one stirred. Then Mr. Max
leaped up and ran through the flickering light to
the nearest window.
There was a flash, a report, and Max came
back into the firelight examining a torn trousers
"I don't mean to kill anybody," explained Mr.
Magee. "Just to wing them. But I'm not an ex-
pert — I might shoot higher than I intend. So I
suggest that no one else try a break for it."
"Mr. Magee," said Miss Thornhill, "I don't
believe you have the slightest idea who that girl
is, nor what she wants with the money."
"That," he replied, "makes it all the more ex-
citing, don't you think?"
"Do you mean — " the professor exploded,
"you don't know her? Well, you young fool."
3IO SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"It's rather fine of you," remarked Miss
"It's asinine, if it's true," the professor voiced
the other side of it.
"You have said yourself — or at least you claim
to have said — " Mr. Magee reminded him, "one
girl like that is worth a million suffragettes."
"And can make just as much trouble," com-
plained Professor Bolton. "I shall certainly see
to it that the hermit's book has an honored place
in our college library."
Out of the big chair into which he had sunk
came the wail of the uncomprehending Cargan:
"He's done this thing to me — after all I've
done for him."
"I hope every one is quite comfortable," re-
marked Mr. Magee, selecting a seat facing the
crowd. "It's to be a long wait, you know."
There was no answer. The wind roared lustily
at the windows. The firelight flickered redly on
the faces of Mr. Magee's prisoners.
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP
IN Upper Asquewan Falls the clock on the old
town hall struck nine. Mr. Magee, on guard
in Baldpate's dreary office, counted the strokes.
She must be half-way down the mountain now —
perhaps at this very moment she heard Quimby's
ancient gate creaking in the wind. He could al-
most see her as she tramped along through the
snow, the lovely heroine of the most romantic
walk of all romantic walks on Baldpate to date.
Half-way to the waiting-room where she had
wept so bitterly; half-way to the curious station
agent with the mop of ginger hair. To-night
there would be no need of a troubadour to im-
plore "Weep no more, my lady". William Hal-
lowell Magee had removed the cause for tears.
It was a long vigil he had begun, but there was
no boredom in it for Billy Magee. He was too
'312 SEVEN KEYS TQ BALDPATE
great a lover of contrast for that. As he looked
around on the ill-assorted group he guarded, he
compared them with the happier people of the
inn's summer nights, about whom the girl had
told him. Instead of these surly or sad folk sit-
ting glumly under the pistol of romantic youth,
he saw maids garbed in the magic of muslin flit
through the shadows. Lights glowed softly; a
waltz came up from the casino on the breath of
the summer breeze. Under the red and white
awnings youth and joy and love had their day —
or their night. The hermit was on hand with his
postal-carded romance. The trees gossiped in
whispers on the mountain.
And, too, the rocking-chair fleet gossiped in
whispers on the veranda, pausing only when the
admiral sailed by in his glory. Eagerly it ran
down its game. This girl — this Myra Thornhill
— ^he remembered, had herself been a victim.
After Kendrick disappeared she had come there
no more, for there were ugly rumors of the man
who had fled. Mr. Magee saw the girl and her
long-absent lover whispering together in the fire-
light; he wondered if they, too, imagined them-
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 313
selves at Baldpate 111 the summer; if they heard
the waltz in the casino, and the laughter of men
in the grill-room.
Ten o'clock, said the town hall pompously. She
was at the station now. In the room of her tears
she was waiting ; perhaps her only companion the
jacky of the **See the World" poster, whose garb
was but a shade bluer than her eyes. Who was
she? What was the bribe money of the Subur-
ban Railway to her? Mr. Magee did not know,
but he trusted her, and he was glad she had won
through him. He saw Professor Bolton walk
through the flickering half-light to join Myra
Thornhill and Kendrick.
; It must be half past by now. Yes — from far
below in the valley came the whistle of a train.
Now — she was boarding it. She and the money.
Boarding it — for where? For what purpose?
Again the train whistled.
"The siege," remarked Mr. Magee, "is more
than half over, ladies and gentlemen."
The professor of Comparative Literature ap-
proached him and took a chair at his side.
"I want to talk with you, Mr. Magee/' he said.
314 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
A welcome diversion," assented Magee, his
eyes still on the room.
I "I have discussed matters w^ith Miss Thorn-
ihill," said the professor in a low voice. "She has
convinced me that in this affair you have acted
from a wholly disinterested point of view. A
mistaken idea of chivalry, perhaps. The infat-
uation of the moment for a pretty face — a thing
to which all men with red blood in their veins are
susceptible — a pleasant thing that I would be the
last to want banished from the world."
''Miss Thornhill," replied Billy Magee, "has
sized up the situation perfectly — except for one
rather important detail. It is not the infatuation
of the moment. Professor. Say rather that of a
"Ah, yes," the old man returned. "Youth —
how sure it always is of that. I do not deprecate
the feeling. Once, long ago, I, too, had youth and
faith. We will not dwell on that, however. Miss
Thornhill assures me that Henry Bentley, the son
of my friend John Bentley, esteems you highly.
She asserts that you are in every respect, as far
as her knowledge goes, an admirable young man.
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 315
I feel sure that after calm contemplation you will
see that what you have done is very unfortunate.
The package of money which in a giddy moment
you have given into a young lady's keeping is
much desired by the authorities as evidence
against a very corrupt political ring. I am cer-
tain that when you know all the details you will
be glad to return with me to Reuton and do all in
your power to help us regain possession of that
And now the town hall informed Mr. Magee
that the hour was eleven. He pictured a train
flying like a black shadow through the white
night. Was she on it — safe?
"Professor Bolton/' he said, "there couldn't
possibly be any one anywhere more eager than
I to learn all the details of this affair — to hear
your real reason for coming to Baldpate Inn, and^
to have the peroxide-blond incident properly
classified and given its niche in history. But let
me tell you again my action of to-night was no
mere madness of the moment. I shall stick to it
through thick and thin. Now, about the blondes."
"The blondes," repeated the professor dream-
3i6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
ily. "Ah, yes, I must make a small confession of
guilt there. I did not come here to escape the re-
sults of that indiscreet remark, but I really made it
— about a year ago. Shall I ever forget ? Hardly
— the newspapers and my wife won't let me. I
can never again win a new honor, however digni-
fied, without being referred to in print as the per-
oxide-blond advocate. The thing has made me
furious. However, I did not come to Baldpate
Inn to avoid the results of a lying newspaper
story, though many a time, a year ago, when I
started to leave my house and saw the reporters
camped on my door-step, I longed for the seclu-
sion of some such spot as this. On the night
when Mr. Kendrick and I climbed Baldpate
Mountain, I remarked as much to him. And so it
occurred to me that if I found any need of ex-
planing my presence here, the blond incident
would do very well. It was only — a white lie."
"A blond one," corrected Mr. Magee. "I for-
give you, Professor. And I'm mighty glad the
incident really happened, despite the pain it
caused you. For it in a way condones my own
offense — and it makes you human, too."
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 317
"If to err is human, it does/' agreed Professor
Bolton. *'To begin with, I am a member of the
faculty of the University of Reuton, situated, as
you no doubt know, in the city of the same name.
For a long time I have taken a quiet interest in
our municipal politics. I have been up in arms
— linguistic arms — against this odd character
Cargan, who came from the slums to rule us with
a rod of iron. Every one knows he is corrupt,
that he is wealthy through the sale of privilege,
that there is actually a fixed schedule of prices
for favors in the way of city ordinances. I have
often denounced him to my friends. Since I
have met him — well, it is remarkable, is it not,
the effect of personality on one's opinions? I
expected to face a devil, with the usual appurte-
nances. Instead I have found a human, rather'
likable man. I can well understand now why it is
that the mob follows him like sheep. However,
that is neither here nor there. He is a crook, and
must be punished — even though I do like him
Mr. Magee smiled over to where the great bulk
of Cargan slouched in a chair.
31 8 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"He's a bully old scout," he remarked.
"Even so," replied the professor, "his high-
handed career of graft in Reuton must come to a
speedy close. He is of a type fast vanishing
through the awakening public conscience. And
his career will end, I assure you, despite the fact
that you, Mr. Magee, have seen fit to send our
evidence scurrying through the night at the be-
hest of a chit of a girl. I beg your pardon — I
shall continue. Young Drayton, the new county
prosecutor, was several years back a favorite
pupil of mine. After he left law school he fell
under the spell of the picturesque mayor of Reu-
ton. Cargan liked him and he rose rapidly. Dray-
ton had no thought of ever turning against his
benefactor when he accepted the first favors, but
later the open selling of men's souls began to dis-
gust him. When Cargan offered him the place of
prosecutor, a few months ago, Drayton assured
him that he would keep his oath of office. The
mayor laughed. Drayton insisted. Cargan had
not yet met the man he could not handle. He
gave Drayton the place."
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 319
The old man leaned forward, and tapped
Magee on the knee.
"It was in me, remember," he went on, "that
Drayton confided his resolve to serve the public.
I was delighted at the news. A few weeks ago
he infonned me his first opportunity was at hand.
Through one of the men in his office he had
learned that Hayden of the Suburban Electric
was seeking to consolidate that road, which had
fallen into partial disrepute under his manage-
ment during the illness of Thornhill, the presi-
dent, with the Civic. The consolidation would
raise the value of the Suburban nearly two mil-
lion dollars — at the public's expense. Hayden
had seen Cargan. Cargan had drafted Ordinance
Number 45, and informed Hayden that his price
for passing it through the council would be the
sum you have juggled in your possession on Bald-
pate Mountain — two hundred thousand dollars."
"A mere trifle," remarked Magee sarcastically.^
"So Cargan made Hayden see. Through long-
experience in these matters the mayor has become
careless. He is the thing above the law, if not
the law itself. He would have had no fear in
320 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
accepting this money on Main Street at midday.
He had no fear when he came here and found he
was being spied on.
"But Hayden — there was the difficulty that be-
gan the drama of Baldpate Inn. Hayden had
few scruples, but as events to-night have well
proved, Mr. Magee, he was a coward at heart.
I do not know just why he lies on your bed
up-stairs at this moment, a suicide — that is
a matter between Kendrick and him, and one
which Kendrick himself has not yet fathomed.
As I say, Hayden was afraid of being caught
Andy Rutter, manager of Baldpate Inn for the
last few summers, is in some way mixed up in the
Suburban. It v/as he who suggested to Hayden
that an absolutely secluded spot for passing this
large sum of money would be the inn. The
idea appealed to Hayden. Cargan tried to laugh
him out of it. The mayor did not relish the
thought of a visit to Baldpate Mountain in the
dead of winter, particularly as he considered such
precautions unnecessary. But Hayden was firm ;
this spot, he pointed out, was ideal, and the
mayor at last laughingly gave in. The sum in-
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 321
volved was well worth taking a little trouble to
Professor Bolton paused, and blinked his dim
''So the matter was arranged," he continued.
"Mr. Bland, a clerk in Hayden's employ, was sent
up here with the money, which he placed in the
safe on the very night of our arrival. The safe
had been left open by Rutter; Bland did not have
the combination. He put the package inside,
swung shut the door, and awaited the arrival of
*T was present," smiled Magee, "at the cere-
mony you mention."
"Yes? All these plans, as I have said, were
known to Drayton. A few nights ago he came to
me. He wanted to send an emissary to Baldpate
— a man whom Cargan had never met — one who
could perhaps keep up the pretense of being here
for some other reason than a connection with the
bribe. He asked me to undertake the mission,
to see all I could, and if possible to secure the
package of money. This last seemed hardly
Z22 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
likely. At any rate, I was to gather all the evi-
dence I could. I hesitated. My library fire never
looked so alluring as on that night. Also, I was
engaged in some very entertaining researches."
"I beg your pardon ?" said Billy Magee.
"Some very entertaining research work."
"Yes," reflected Magee slowly, "I suppose
such things do exist. Go on, please."
"I had loudly proclaimed my championship of
civic virtue, however, and here was a chance to
serve Reuton. I acquiesced. The day I was to
start up here, poor Kendrick came back. He, too,
had been a student of mine; a friend of both
Drayton and Hayden. Seven years ago he and
Hayden were running the Suburban together,
under Thornhill's direction. The two young men
became mixed up in a rather shady business deal,
which was more of Hayden's weaving than Ken-
drick's. Hayden came to Kendrick with the
story that they were about to be found out, and
suggested that one assume the blame and go
away. I am telling you all this in confidence as
a friend of my friends, the Bentleys, and a young
man whom I like and trust despite your momen-
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 2^22,
tary madness in the matter of yellow locks — we
are all susceptible.
"Kendrick went. For seven years he stayed
away, in an impossible tropic town, believing
himself sought by the law, for so Hayden wrote
him. Not long ago he discovered that the mat-
ter in which he and Hayden had offended had
never been disclosed after all. He hurried back
to the states. You can imagine his bitterness.
He had been engaged to Myra Thornhill, and the
fact that Hayden was also in love with her may
have had something to do with his treachery to
Magee's eyes strayed to where the two victims
of the dead man's falsehood whispered together
in the shadows, and he wondered at the calmness
w^ith which Kendrick had greeted Hayden in the
*'When Kendrick arrived," Professor Bolton
went on, "first of all he consulted his old friend
Drayton. Drayton informed him that he had
nothing to fear should his misstep be made pub-
lic, for in reality there was, at this late day, no
crime committed in the eyes of the law. He also
324 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
told Kendrick how matters stood, and of the net
he was spreading for Hayden. He had some
fears, he said, about sending a man of my years
alone to Baldpate Inn. Kendrick begged for the
chance to come, too. So, without making his re-
turn known in Reuton, three nights ago he ac-
companied me here. Three nights — it seems
years. I had secured keys for us both from John
Bentley. As we climbed the mountain, I noticed
your light, and we agreed it would be best if only
one of us revealed ourselves to the intruders in
the inn. So Kendrick let himself in by a side
door while I engaged you and Bland in the office.
He spent the night on the third floor. In the
morning I told the whole affair to Quimby,
knowing his interest in both Hayden and Ken-
drick, and secured for Kendrick the key to the
annex. Almost as soon as I arrived — "
"The curtain went up on the melodrama," sug-
gested Mr. Magee.
"You state it vividly and with truth," Profes-
sor Bolton replied. "Night before last the ordi-
nance numbered 45 was due to pass the council.
It was arranged that when it did, Hayden,
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 325
through his man Rutter, or personally, would
telephone the combination of the safe to the
mayor of Reuton. Cargan and Bland sat in the
office watching for the flash of light at the tele-
phone switchboard, while you and I were Max's
prisoners above. Something went wrong. Hay-
den heard that the courts would issue an injunc-
tion making Ordinance Number 45 worthless.
So, although the council obeyed Cargan's in-
structions and passed the bill, Hayden refused to
give the mayor the combination.'*
The old man paused and shook his head won-
"Then melodrama began in dead earnest," he
continued. "I have always been a man of peace,
and the wild scuffle that claimed me for one of
its leading actors from that moment will remain
in my memory as long as I live. Cargan dyna-
mited the safe. Kendrick held him up; you held
up Kendrick. I peeked through your window
and saw you place the package of money under
a brick in your fireplace — "
"You — the curtains were down," interrupted
326 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I found a half-inch of open space," explained
the old man. "Yes, I actually lay on my stomach
in the snow and watched you. In the morning,
for the first time in my life, I committed robbery.
My punishment was swift and sure. Bland
swooped down upon me. Again this afternoon,
I came upon the precious package, after a long
search, in the hands of the Hermit of Baldpate.
I thought we were safe at last when I handed the
package to Kendrick in my room to-night — but I
had not counted on the wild things a youth like
you will do for love of a designing maid."
Twelve o'clock! The civic center of Upper
Asquewan Falls proclaimed it. Mr. Magee had
never been in Reuton. He was sorry he hadn't.
He had to construct from imagination alone the
jgreat Reuton station through which the girl and.
the money must now be hurrying — where? The
question would not down. Was she — as the pro-
fessor believed — designing ?
"No," said Mr. Magee, answering aloud his
own question. "You are wrong, sir. I do not
know just what the motives of Miss Norton
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 327
were in desiring this money, but I will stake my
reputation as an honest hold-up man that they
were perfectly all right."
"Perhaps," replied the other, quite uncon-
vinced. "But — what honest motive could she
have? I am able to assign her no role in this
little drama. I have tried. I am able to see no
connection between her and the other characters.
"Pardon me," broke In Magee. "But would
you mind telling me why Miss Thornhill came up
to Baldpate to join in the chase for the package ?"
"Her motive," replied the professor, "does her
great credit. For several years her father, Henry
Thornhill, has been forced through illness to
leave the management of the railway's affairs to
his vice-president, Hayden. Late yesterday the
old man heard of this proposed bribe — on his sick
bed. He was very nearly insane at the thought of
the disgrace it would bring upon him. He tried to
rise himself and prevent the passing of the pack-
age. His daughter — a brave loyal girl — herself
undertook the task."
328 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Then/' said Mr. Magee, "Miss Thornhill is
not distressed at the loss of the most important
evidence in the case."
"I have explained the matter to her/* returned
Professor Bolton. "There is no chance whatever
that her father's name will be implicated. Both
Drayton and myself have the highest regard for
his integrity. The whole affair was arranged
when he was too ill to dream of it. His good
name will be smirched in no way. The only man
involved on the giver's side is dead in the room
above. The man we are after now is Cargan.
Miss Thornhill has agreed that it is best to prose-
cute. That eliminates her."
"Did Miss Thornhill and Kendrick meet for
the first time, after his exile, up-stairs — in num-
ber seven ?" Mr. Magee wanted to know.
"Yes," answered Professor Bolton. "In one
of his letters long ago Hayden told Kendrick he
was engaged to the girl. It was the last letter
Kendrick received from him."
There was a pause.
"The important point now," the old man went
on, "is the identity of this girl to whom you have
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 329
made your princely gift, out of the goodness of
your young heart. I propose to speak to the
woman she has introduced as her mother, and
elicit what information I can."
He crossed the floor, followed by Mr. Magee,
and stood by the woman^s chair. She looked up,
her eyes heavy with sleep, her appearance more
tawdry than ever in that faint light.
"Madam," remarked the professor, with the
air of a judge trying a case, "your daughter has
to-night made her escape from this place with a
large sum of money earnestly desired by the pros-
ecuting attorney of Reuton county. In the name
of the law, I command you to tell me her desti-
nation, and what she proposes to do with that
package of greenbacks."
The woman blinked stupidly in the dusk.
"She ain't my daughter," she replied, and Mr.
Magee's heart leaped up. "I can tell you that
much. I keep a boarding-house in Reuton and
Miss — the girl you speak about — has been my
boarder for three years. She brought me up here
as a sort of chaperon, though I don't see as I'm
old enough for that yet. You don't get nothing
330 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
else out of me — except that she is a perfectly
lovely young woman, and your money couldn't
be safer v/ith the president of the United States."
The puzzled professor of Comparative Litera-
ture caressed his bald head thoughtfully. "I — er
— " he remarked. Mr. Magee could have em-
braced this faded woman for her news. He
looked at his watch. It was twelve-twenty.
"The siege is over/' he cried. "I shall not at-
tempt to direct your actions any longer. Mr.
Peters, will you please go down to the village and
bring back Mr. Quimby and — the coroner?"
"The coroner !" The mayor of Reuton jumped
to his feet. "I don't want to be in on any inquest
scene. Come on. Max, let's get out of here."
Bland stood up, his face was white and wor-
ried, his gay plumage no longer set the tone for
"I think I'll go, too," he announced, looking
hopefully at Magee.
"I'm no longer your jailer," Magee said.
"Professor, these gentlemen are your witnesses.
Do you wish to detain them ?"
"See here," cried the mayor angrily, "there
THE PROFESSOR SUMS UP 331
ain't no question but that you can find me in Reu-
ton any time you want me. At the little room on
Main Street — anybody can tell you my hours —
the door's always open to any reformer that has
the nerve to climb the stairs. Look me up there.
I'll make it interesting for you."
"I certainly shall," the professor replied. "And
very soon. Until then you may go when and
where you please."
"Thanks," sneered the mayor. "I'll expect
you. I'll be ready. I've had to get ready to
answer your kind before. You think you got me,
eh? Well, you're a fool to think that. As for
Drayton, the pup, the yellow-streaked pup — I'll
talk to Mister Drayton when I get back to Reu-
"Before you go, Bland," remarked Magee,,
'smiling, "I want to ask about Arabella. Where
did you get her?"
"Some of it happened to a friend of mine,"
the ex-haberdasher answered, "a friend that keeps
a clothing store. I got this suit there. I changed
the story, here and there. He didn't write her
no note, though he thought seriously of it. And
332 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
he didn't run away and hide. The last I seen of
him he was testing the effect of the heart-balm on
sale behind the swinging doors."
Mr. Magee laughed, but over the long lean face
of Bland not the ghost of a smile flitted. He
was frightened, through and through.
"You're a fine bunch," sneered Mr. Max. "Re-
formers, eh? Well, you'll get what the rest of
'em always got. We'll tie you up in knots and
leave you on the door-step of some orphan asylum
before we're through with you."
"Come on, Lou," said Cargan. "Drayton's a
smart guy, Doc. Where's his proof? Eloped
with the bundle of dry goods this young man's
taken a fancy to. And even if he had the money
— I've been up against this many a time. You're
wasting your talents. Doc. Good night! Come
The three stamped out through the dining-
room, and from the window Mr. Magee watched
them disappear down the road that stretched to
A RED CARD
MR. MAGEE turned back from the win-
dow to the dim interior of the hotel
office. He who had come to Baldpate Inn to court
loneliness had never felt so lonely in his life.
For he had lost sight of her — in the great Reuton
station of his imagination she had slipped from
his dreams — to go where he could not follow,
even in thought. He felt as he knew this great
bare room must feel each fall when the last laugh
died away down the mountain, and the gloom
of winter descended from drab skies.
Selecting a log of the hermit's cutting from
the stock beside the hearth, Mr. Magee tossed it
on the fire. There followed a shower of sparks
and a flood of red light in the room. Through
this light Kendrick advanced to Magee's side, and
the first of the Baldpate hermits saw that the
334 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
man's face was lined by care, that his eyes were
tired even under the new hght in them, that his
mouth was twisted bitterly.
*Toor devil," thought Magee.
Kendrick drew up chairs for himself and Ma-
gee, and they sat down. Behind them the bulky
Mrs. Norton dozed, dreaming perhaps of her
Reuton boarding-house, while Miss Thornhill
and the professor talked intermittently in low
tones. The ranks at Baldpate were thinning
rapidly; before long the place must settle back
with a sigh in the cold, to wait for its first sum-
"Mr. Magee," said Kendrick nervously, ''you
have become involved in an unkind, a tragic
story. I do not mean the affair of the bribe —
I refer to the matter between Hayden and my-
self. Before Peters comes back with — the men
he went for — I should like to tell you some of
the facts of that story."
"If you had rather not — " began Magee.
"No," replied Kendrick, "I prefer that you
should know. It was you who took the pistol
from — ^his hand. I do not believe that even I
A RED CARD 335
can tell you all that was in Hayden's mind when
he went into that other room and closed the door.
It seems to me preposterous that a man of his
sort should take his life under the circumstances.
I feel, somehow, that there is a part of the story
even I do not know. But let that be."
He bowed his head in his hands.
"Ever since I came into this room," he went
on, "the eyes of a pompous little man have been
following me about. They have constantly re-
called to me the nightmare of my life. You have
noticed, no doubt, the pictures of the admiral
that decorate these walls ?"
"I have," replied Magee. He gazed curiously
at the nearest of the portraits. How persistently
this almost mythical starched man wove in and
out of the melodrama at Baldpate Inn.
"Well," continued Kendrick, "the admiral's
eyes haunt me. Perhaps you know that he plays
a game — a game of solitaire. I have good, rea-
son to remember that game. It is a silly in-
consequential game. You would scarcely believe
that it once sent a man to hell."
336 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I am beginning in the middle of my story/*
he apologized. "Let me go back. Six years ago
I was hardly the man you see now — I was at
least twenty years younger. Hayden and I
worked together in the office of the Suburban
Railway. We had been close friends at college —
I believed in him and trusted him, although I
knew he had certain weaknesses. I was a happy
man. I had risen rapidly, I was young, the
future was lying golden before me — and I was
engaged. The daughter of Henry Thomhill,
our employer — the girl you have met here at
Baldpate — had promised to be my wife. Hayden
had also been a suitor, but when our engagement
was announced he came to me like a man, and I
thought his words were sincere.
"One day Hayden told me of a chance w^e
might take which would make us rich. It was
not — altogether within the law. But it was the
sort of thing that other men were doing con-
stantly, and Hayden assured me that as he had
arranged matters it was absolutely safe. My
great sin is that I agreed we should take the
A RED CARD 337
chance — a sin for which I have paid, Mr. Magee,
over and over."
Again he paused, and gazed steadily at the fire.
Again Magee noted the gray at his temples, the
aftermath of fevers in his cheeks.
"We — took the chance," he went on. "For a
time everything went well. Then — one bluster-
ing March night — Hayden came to me and told
me we were certain to be caught. Some of his
plans had gone awry. I trusted him fully at the
time, you understand — he was the man with
whom I had sat on the window-seat of my room
at college, settling the question of immortality,
and all the other great questions young men settle
at such times. I have at this moment no doubt
that he was quite truthful when he said we were
in danger of arrest. We arranged to meet the
next night at the Argots Club and decide on what
we should do.
"We met — in the library of the club. Hayden
came in to me from the card-room adjoining,
where he had been watching the admiral dodder-
ing over his eternal game. The old man had be-
338 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
come a fixture at the club, like Parker down at
the door, or the great chandelier in the hall. No
one paid any attention to him; when he tried to
talk to the younger men about his game they fled
as from a pestilence. Well, as I say, Hayden
came to meet me, and just at that moment the ad-
miral finished his game and went out. We were
alone in the library.
"Hayden told me he had thought the matter
over carefully. There was nothing to do but to
clear out of Reuton forever. But why, he argued,
should we both go? Why wreck two lives? It
would be far better, he told me, for one to as-
sume the guilt of both and go away. I can see
him now — how funny and white his face looked
in that half -lighted room — how his hands trem-
bled. I was far the calmer of the two.
*T agreed to his plan. Hayden led the way into
the room where the admiral had been playing.
We went up to the table, over which the green-
shaded light still burned. On it lay two decks of
cards, face up. Hayden picked up the nearest
deck, and shuffled it nervously. His face — God,
it was like the snow out there on the mountain.'^
A RED CARD 339
Kendrick closed his eyes, and Magee gazed at
him in silent pity.
"He held out the deck," went on the exile
softly, "he told me to draw. He said if the card
was black, he*d clear out. 'But if it's red, David,'
he said, 'why — you — got to go/ I held my
breath, and drew. It was a full minute before I
dared look at the card in my hand. Then I
turned it pver and it was — red — a measly little
red two-spot. I don't suppose a man ever real-
izes all at once what such a moment means. I
remember that I was much cooler than Hayden.
It was I who had to brace him up. I — I even
tried to joke with him. But his face was like
death. He hardly spoke at all at first, and then
suddenly he became horribly talkative. I left
him — talking wildly — I left Reuton. I left the
girl to whom I was engaged."
To break the silence that followed, Mr. Magee
leaned forward and stirred the logs.
"I don't want to bore you," Kendrick said,
trying to smile. *T went to a little town in South
America. There was no treaty of extradition
there — nor anything else civilized and decent. I
340 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
smoked cigarettes and drank what passed for
rum, on the balcony of an impossible hotel, and
otherwise groped about for the path that leads to
the devil. After a year, I wrote to Hayden. He
answered, urging me to stay away. He inti-
mated that the thing we had done was on my
shoulders. I was ashamed, frightfully unhappy.
I didn't dare write to — her. I had disgraced her.
I asked Hayden about her, and he wrote back
that she was shortly to marry him. After that I
didn't want to come back to Reuton. I wanted
most — to die.
"The years crept by on the balcony pf that
impossible hotel. Six of them. The first in bit-
ter memories, memories of a red card that danced
fiendishly before my eyes when I closed them —
the last in a fierce biting desire to come back to
the world I had left. At last, a few months ago,
I wrote to another college friend of mine, Dray-
ton, and told him the whole story. I did not
know that he had been elected prosecutor in Reu-
ton. He answered with a kind pitying letter —
and finally I knew the horrible truth. Nothing
had ever happened. The thing we had done had
A RED CARD 341
never been discovered. Hayden had lied. He
had even lied about his engagement to Myra
Thornhill. There, he had made a reality out of
what was simply his great desire.
"You can imagine my feelings. Six years in
a tomb, a comic opera sort of tomb, where a
silly surf was forever pounding, and foolish palms
kept waving. Six years — for nothing. Six
years, while Hayden, guiltier than I, stayed be-
hind to enjoy the good things of life, to plead for
the girl whose lover he had banished.
"I lost no time in coming north. Three days
ago I entered Drayton's office. I was ready and
willing that the wrong Hayden and I had done
should be made public. Drayton informed me
that legally there had been no crime, that Hayden
had straightened things out in time, that we had
defrauded no one. And he told me that for what-
ever sin I had committed he thought I had more
than atoned down there in that town that God
forgot. I think I had. He explained to me about
the trap he had laid for Hayden up here at Bald-
pate Inn. I begged to help. What happened
after, you know as well as I.'*
342 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Yes, I think I do," agreed Mr. Magee softly.
"I have told you the whole story," Kendrick
replied, *'and yet it seems to me that still it is
not all told. Why should Hayden have killed
himself? He had lied to me, it is true, but life
was always sweet to him, and it hardly seems to
me that he was the sort to die simply because his
falsehood was discovered. Was there some other
act of cruelty — some side to the story of which
we are none of us aware? I wonder."
He was silent a moment.
"Anyhow, I have told you all I know," he said.
"Shall I tell it also to the coroner? Or shall we
allow Hayden's suicide to pass as the result of his
implication in this attempt at bribery? I ask
your advice, Mr. Magee."
"My advice," returned Magee, "is that you be-
fuddle no pompous little village doctor with the
complication of this unhappy tale. No, let the
story be that Hayden killed himself as the toils
closed in on him — the toils of the law that pun-
ishes the bribe giver — now and then and oc-
casionally. Mr. Kendrick, you have my deepest
sympathy. Is it too much for me to hope"^he
A RED CARD 343
glanced across the room to where Myra Thorn-
hill sat beside the professor — "that the best of
your life is yet to come — that out of the wreck
'this man made of it you may yet be happy ?"
"You are very kind," he said. "Twice we have
met and battled in the snow, and I do not hold it
against you that both times you were the victor.
Life in a tropic town, Mr. Magee, is not exactly
a muscle-building experience. Once I might have
given the whole proceeding a different turn. Yes,
Miss Thornhill has waited for me — all these years
— waited, believing. It is a loyalty of which I
can not speak without — you understand. She
knows why I went away — why I stayed away.
She is still ready to marry me. I shall go again
into the Suburban office and try to lift the road
from the muck into which it has fallen. Yes,
.it is not too much for me to hope — and for
you in your kindness — that a great happiness is
still for me."
"Believe me, Fm glad," replied Magee with
youthful enthusiasm, holding out his hand. "I'm
sorry I spoiled your little game up here, but — '*
344 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I understand," smiled Kendrick. '1 think
none the less of you for what you have done.
And who knows ? It may turn out to have been
the wisest course after all."
Ah, would it ? Mr. Magee walked to the win-
dow, pondering on the odd tangle of events that
had not yet been completely straightened out.
Certainly her eyes were an honest blue as well
as a beautiful — but who was she? Where was
she? The great figure of Mrs. Norton stirred
restlessly near at hand; the puffed lids of her
"Mr. Magee," she said, when she had made
out his figure by the window, "you've been a true
'friend, as I might say, to a couple of mad fe-
males who ought to have been at home by their
own firesides, and I'm going to ask one more
favor of you. Find out when the next train goes
to Reuton, and see that I'm at the station an
hour or two before it pulls out."
"I'll do that, Mrs. Norton," smiled Magee.
"By the way, is Norton the name?"
"Yes," answered the woman, "that's my name.
Of course, it ain't hers. I can't tell that."
A RED CARD 345
*'No matter/' said Mr. Magee, "she'll probably
change it soon. Can't you tell me something
about her — just a tiny bit of information. Just
a picture of where she is now, and what she's
doing with that small fortune I gave her.'*
"Where is she now?" repeated Mrs. Norton.
"She's home and in bed in my second floor front,
unless she's gone clear crazy. And that's where
I wish I was this minute — in bed — though it's a
question in my mind if I'll ever be able to sleep
again, what with the uproar and confusion my
house is probably in by this time, leaving it in
charge of a scatter-brained girl. Norton always
used to say if you want a thing done right, do it
yourself, and though he didn't always live up to
the sentiment, letting me do most things he
wanted done right, there was a lot of truth in his
words. I certainly must get back to Reuton, just
as quick as the railroad will take me."
"Why did you come?" prodded Mr. Magee.
"Why did you leave your house on this strange
"The Lord knows," replied the woman. "I
certainly never intended to, but she begged and
346 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
pleaded, and the first thing I knew, I was on al
train. She has winning ways, that girl — ^maybe
"I have," assented Billy Magee.
"I thought so. No, Mr. Magee, I can't tell you
nothing about her. I ain't allowed to — even you
that has been so kind. She made me promise.
'He'll know soon enough,' she kept saying. But
I will tell you, as I told you before, there's no
occasion to worry about her — unless you was to
tliink was she held up and murdered with all
that money on her, the brave little dear. If
you was considering offering yourself for the job
of changing her name, Mr. Magee, I say go in
and do it. It sure is time she settled down and
gave up this — this — gave it all up before some-
thing awful happens to her. You won't forget
— ^the very next train, Mr. Magee ?"
"The very next," Magee agreed.
In through the dining-room door stamped
Quimby, grave of face, dazed at being roused
from sleep, and with him an important little man
whose duty it was to investigate at Upper Asque-
wan Falls such things as had happened that night
A RED CARD 347
at Baldpate. Even from his slumber he rose with
the air of a judge and the manner of a Sherlock
Holmes. For an hour he asked questions, and
in the end he prepared to go in a seemingly satis-
fied state of mind.
Quimby's face was very awed when he came
down-stairs after a visit to the room above.
*Toor fellow!" he said to Magee. "I'm sorry
— he was so young." For such as Quimby carry
no feud beyond the gates. He went over and
took Kendrick's hand.
"I never had a chance," he said, "to thank you
for all you tried to do for me and my invention."
"And it came to nothing in the end?" Ken-
"Nothing," Quimby answered, "I — I had to
creep back to Baldpate Mountain finally — broke
and discouraged. I have been here ever since.'
All my blue prints, all my models — they're locked
away forever in a chest up in the attic."
"Not forever, Quimby," Kendrick replied. "I
always did believe in your invention — I believe in
it still. When I get back into the harness — Fm
sure I can do something for you."
348 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Quimby shook his head. He looked to be half
'It don't seem possible," he said. "No — it's
all been buried so long — all the hope — all the
plans — it don't seem possible it could ever come
to life again."
"But it can, and it will," cried Kendrick. "I'm
going to lay a stretch of track in Reuton with
your joints. That's all you need — they'll have to
use 'em then. We'll force the Civic into it. We
can do it, Quimby — we surely can."
Quimby rubbed his hand across his eyes.
"You'll lay a stretch of track — " he repeated.
"That's great news to me, Mr. Kendrick. I — I
can't thank you now." His voice was husky.
"I'll come back and take care of — him," he said,
jerking his head toward the room up-stairs. "I
got to go now — this minute — I got to go and tell
my wife. I got to tell her what you've said.*^
EXEUNT OMNES, AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT
AT FOUR in the morning Baldpate Inn,
wrapped in the arms p£ winter, had all
the rare gaiety and charm of a baseball bleechers
on Christmas Eve. Looking gloomily out the
window, Mr. Magee heard behind him the steps
on the stairs and the low cautions of Quimby,
and two men he had brought from the village,
who were carrying something down to the dark
carriage that waited outside. He did not look
round. It was a picture he wished to avoid.
So this was the end — ^the end of his two and
a half days of solitude — the end of his light-
hearted exile on Baldpate Mountain. He thought
of Bland, lean and white of face, gay of garb,
fleeing through the night, his Arabella fiction
disowned in the real tragedy that had followed.
He thought of Cargan and Max, also fleeing,
350 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
wrathful, sneering, by Bland's side. He thought
of Hayden, jolting down the mountain in that
black wagon. So it ended.
' So it ended — most preposterous end — ^witH
William Hallowell Magee madly, desperately, in
love. By the gods — in love ! In love with a fair
gay-hearted girl for whom he had fought, and
stolen, and snapped his fingers at the law as it
blinked at him in the person of Professor Bolton.
Billy Magee, the calm, the unsusceptible, who
wrote of a popular cupid but had always steered
clear of his shots. In love with a girl whose name
he did not know; whose motives were mostly in
the fog. And he had come up here — to be alone.
For the first time in many hours he thought of
New York, of the fellows at the club, of what
they would say when the jocund news came that
Billy Magee had gone mad on a mountainside.
He thought of Helen Faulkner, haughty, unper-
turbed, bred to hold herself above the swift catas-
trophies of the world. He could see the arch of
her patrician eyebrows, the shrug of her exquisite
shoulders, when young Williams hastened up the
avenue and poured into her ear the merry story.
AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT 351
Well — so be it. He had never cared for her. In
her superiority he had found a challenge, in her
icy indifference a trap, that lured him on to try
his hand at winning her. But he had never for a
moment caught a glimmering of what it was
really to care — ^to care as he cared now for the
girl who had gone from him — somewhere — down
Quimby dragged into the room, the strain of a
rather wild night in Upper Asquewan Falls in his
*'j3ke Peters asked me to tell you he ain't com-
ing back," he said. "Mis' Quimby is getting
breakfast for you down at our house. You better
pack up now and start down, I reckon. Your
train goes at half past six."
Mrs. Norton jumped up, proclaiming that she
must be aboard that train at any cost. Miss
Thornhill, the professor and Kendrick ascended
the stairs, and in a moment Magee followed. /
He stepped softly into number seven, for the
tragedy of the rooms was still in the air. Vague
shapes seemed to flit about him as he lighted a
candle. They whispered in his ear that this was
352 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
to have been the scene of achievement; that here
he was to have written the book that should make
his place secure. Ah, w^ell, fate had decreed it
otherwise. It had set plump in his path the
melodrama he had come up to Baldpate to avoid.
Ironic fate, she must be laughing now in the
sleeve of her kimono. Feeling about in the
shadows Magee gathered his things together, put
them in his bags, and with a last look at number
seven, closed the door forever on its many excite-
A shivering group awaited him at the foot of
the stair. Mrs. Norton's hat was on at an angle
even the most imaginative milliner could not have
approved. The professor looked older than ever;
even Miss Thornhill seemed a little less statu-
esque and handsome in the dusk. Quimby led the
way to the door, they passed through it, and Mr.
Magee locked it after them with the key Hal
Bentley had blithely given him on Forty-fourth
Street, New York.
So Baldpate Inn dropped back into the silence
to slumber and to wait. To wait for the magi^
of muslin, the lilt of waltzes, the tinkle of laugh-
AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT 353
ter, the rhythm of the rockers of the fleet on its
verandas, the formal tread of the admiral's boots
across its polished floors, the clink of dimes in the
pockets of its bell-boys. For a few brief hours
strange figures had replaced the unromantic
Quimby in its rooms, they had come to talk of
money and of love, to plot and scheme, and as
they came in the dark and moved most swiftly in
the dark, so in the dark they went away, and
Baldpate's startling winter drama took reluctantly
its final curtain.
Down the snowy road the five followed Quim-
by 's lead ; Mr. Magee picturing in fancy one who
had fled along this path but a short time before ;
the others busy with many thoughts, not the
least of which was of Mrs. Quimby's breakfast.
At the door of the kitchen she met them, ma-
ternal, concerned, eager to pamper and to serve,
just as Mr. Magee remembered her on that night
that now seemed so long ago. He smiled down
into her eyes, and he had an engaging smile,
even at four-thirty in the morning.
"Well, Mrs. Quimby," he cried, "here is the
prodigal straight from that old husk of an inn.
354 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
And believe me, he's pretty anxious to sit down
to some food that woman, starter of all the
trouble since the world began, had a hand in."
"Come right in, all of you," chirruped Mrs-
Quimby, ushering them into a pleasant odor of
cookery. "Take off your things and sit down.
Breakfast's most ready. My land, I guess you
must be pretty nigh starved to death. Quimby
told me who was cooking for you, and I says to
Quimby: What,' I says, 'that no account woman-
hater messing round at a woman's job, like that,'
I says. 'Heaven pity the people at the inn,' I
says. 'Mr. Peters may be able to amuse them
with stories of how Cleopatra whiled away the
quiet Eg}^ptian evenings,' I says, 'and he may be
able to throw a little new light on Helen of Troy,
who would object to having it thrown if she was
alive and the lady I think her, but,' I says, 'when
it comes to cooking, I guess he stands about
where you do, Quimby.' You see, Quimby's rep-
ertory consists of coffee and soup, and sometimes
it's hard to tell which he means for which."
"So Mr. Peters has taken you in on the secret
AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT 353
of the book he is writing against your sex?'* re-
marked Billy Magee.
"Not exactly that," Mrs. Quimby answered,
brushing back a wisp of gray hair, "but he's dis-
cussed it in my presence, ignoring me at the time.
You see, he comes down here and reads his latest
chapters to Quimby o' nights, and I've caught
quite a lot of it on my way between the cook-
stove and the sink."
"I ain't no judge of books," remarked Mrs.
Norton from a comfortable rocking-chair, "but
I'll bet that one's the limit."
"You're right, ma'am," Mrs. Quimby told her.
"I ain't saying that some of it ain't real pretty
worded, but that's just to hide the falsehood
underneath. My land, the lies there is in that
book! You don't need to know much about
history to know that Jake Peters has made it
over to fit his argument, and that he ain't made
it over so well but what the old seams show here
and there, and the place where the braid was is
plain as daylight"
After ten more minutes of bustle, Mrs. Quim-
356 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
by announced that they could sit down, and they
were not slow to accept the invitation. The
breakfast she served them moved Mr. Magee to
"I want to know where I stand as a judge of
character. On the first night I saw Mrs. Quimby,
without tasting a morsel of food cooked by her,
I said she was the best cook in the county."
The professor looked up from his griddle cakes.
"Why lij-nit it to the county?" he asked. "I
should say you were too parsimonious in your
Mrs. Quimby, detecting in the old man's words
a compliment, flushed an even deeper red as she
bent above the stove. Under the benign influence
of the food and the woman's cheery personality,
the spirits of the crowd rose. Baldpate Inn was
in the past, its doors locked, its seven keys scat-
tered through the dawn. Mrs. Quimby, as she
continued to press food upon them, spoke with
interest of the events that had come to pass at
"It's so seldom anything really happens around
here," she said, *T just been hungering for news
AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT 357
of the strange goings-on up there. And I must
say Quimby ain't been none too newsy on the
subject. I threatened to come up and join in the
proceedings myself, especially when I heard about
the book- writing cook Providence had sent you.**
*'You would have found us on the porch witH
outstretched arms," Mr. Magee assured her.
It was on Kendrick that Mrs. Quimby show-
ered her attentions, and when the group rose to
seek the station, amid a consultation of watches
that recalled the commuter who rises at dawn
to play tag with a flippant train, Mr. Magee heard
her say to the railroad man in a heartfelt aside:
"I don't know as I can ever thank you enough,
Mr. Kendrick, for putting new hope into Quim-
by. You'll never understand what it means,
when you've given up, and your life seems all
done and wasted, to hear that there's a chance
"Won't I ?" replied Kendrick warmly. "Mrs.
Quimby, it will make me a very happy man to
give your husband his chance."
The first streaks of dawn were in the sky when
the hermits of Baldpate filed through the gate into
1358 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
the road, waving good-by to Quimby and his
wife, who stood in their dooryard for the fare-
well. Down through sleepy little Asquewan
Falls they paraded, meeting here and there a
tired man with a lunch basket in his hand, who
stepped to one side and frankly stared while the
odd procession passed.
In the station Mr. Magee encountered an old
friend — he of the mop of ginger-colored hair.
The man who had complained of the slowness
of the village gazed with wide eyes at Magee.
*T figured," he said, "that you'd come this way
again. Well, I must say you've put a little life
into this place. If Td known when I saw you
here the other night all the exciting things you
had up your sleeve, I'd a-gone right up to Bald-
pate with you."
"But I hadn't anything up my sleeve," pro-
"Maybe," replied the agent, winking. "There's
some pretty giddy stories going round about the
carryings-on up at Baldpate. Shots fired, and
strange lights flashing — dog-gone it, the only
thing that's happened here in years, and 1 wasn't
AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT 359
in on it. I certainly wish you'd put me wise
''By the way," inquired Magee, "did you notice
the passengers from here on the ten-thirty train
last night ?"
"Ten-thirty," repeated the agent. "Say, what
sort of hours do you think I keep? A man has
to get some sleep, even if he does work for a
railroad. I wasn't here at ten-thirty last night.
Young Cal Hunt was on duty then. He's home
and in bed now."
No help there. Into the night the girl and the
two hundred thousand had fled together, and
Mr. Magee could only wait, and wonder, as to
the meaning of that flight.
Two drooping figures entered the station — the
mayof and his faithful lieutenant. Max. The
dignity of the former had faded like a flower,
\ nd the same withered simile might have been
applied with equal force to the accustomed jaunt-
iness of Lou.
"Good morning," said Mr. Magee in greeting.
"Taking an early train, too, eh? Have a pleas-
ant night ?"
36o SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Young man," replied Cargan, "if you've evet
put up at a hotel in a town the size of this, called
the Commercial House, you know that last ques-
tion has just one answer — manslaughter. I heard
a minister say once that all drummers are bound
for hell. If they are, it'll be a pleasant change
Mr. Max delved beneath his overcoat, and
brought forth the materials for a cigarette, which
he rolled between yellow fingers.
"If I was a drummer," he said dolefully, "one
breakfast — was that what they called it, Jim? —
one breakfast like we just passed through would
drive me into the awful habit of reading one of
these here books of Drummers' Yarns.''
"Sorry," smiled Magee. "We had an excellent
breakfast at Mrs. Quimby's. Really, you should
have stayed. By the way, where is Bland?"
"Got shaky in the knees," said Cargan.
"Afraid of the reformers. Ain't had much ex-
perience in these things, or he'd know he might
just as well tremble at the approach of a blue-
bottle fly. We put him on a train going the other
direction from Reuton early this morning. He
AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT 361
thinks he'd better seek his fortune elsewhere."
He leaned in heavy confidence toward Magee.
"Say, young fellow," he whispered, "put me wise.
That little sleight of hand game you worked last
night had me dizzy. Where's the coin ? Where's
the girl? What's the game? Take the boodle
and welcome — it ain't mine — but put me next to
what's doing, so I'll know how my instalment of
this serial story ought to read."
*'Mr. Cargan," replied Magee, "you know as
much about that girl as I do. She asked me to
get her the money, and I did."
But what's your place in the game?"
A looker-on in Athens," returned Magee.
"Translated, a guy who had bumped into a cy-
clone and was sitting tight waiting for it to blow
over. I — I took a fancy to her, as you might put
it. She wanted the money. I got it for her."
"A pretty fairy story, my boy," the mayor
Absolutely true," smiled Magee.
What do you think of that for an explanation,
Lou," inquired Cargan, "she asked him for the
money and he gave it to her?"
Z(>2. SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
Mr. Max leered.
**Say, a Broadway chorus would be pleased to
meet you, Magee," he commented.
"Don't tell any of your chorus friends about
me," replied Magee. *T might not always prove
so complacent. Every man has his moments of
falling for romance. Even you probably fell
once — and what a fall was there."
"Can the romance stuff," pleaded Max. "This
chilly railway station wasn't meant for such
Wasn't it? Mr. Magee looked around at the
dingy walls, at the soiled time-cards, at the dis-
reputable stove. No place for romance? It was
here he had seen her first, in the dusk, weeping
bitterly over the seemingly hopeless task in which
he was destined to serve her. No place for ro-
mance — and here had begun his life's romance.
The blue blithe sailor still stood at attention in
the "See the World" poster. Magee winked at
him. He knew about it all, he knew, he knew — •
he knew how alluring she had looked in the blue
corduroy suit, the bit of cambric pressed ago-
AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT 1363
nizlngly to her face. Verily, even the sailor of
the posters saw the world and all Its glories.
The agent leaned his face against the bars.
"Your train," he called, "is crossing the Main
They filed out upon the platform, Mr. Magee
carrying Mrs. Norton's luggage amid her effusive
thanks. On the platform waited a stranger
equipped for travel. It was Mr. Max who made
the great discovery.
"By the Lord Harry," he cried, "it's the Her»
mit of Baldpate Mountain."
And so it was, his beard gone, his hair clumsily
hacked, his body garbed in the height of an old
and ludicrous fashion, his face set bravely toward
the cities once more.
"Yes," he said, "I walked the floor, thinking
it all over. I knew it would happen, and It has.
The winters are hard, and the sight of you — it
was too much. The excitement, the talk — it did
for me, did for my oath. So I'm going back to
her — back to Brooklyn for Christmas."
"A merry one to you," growled Cargan.
364 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Maybe," replied Mr. Peters. "Very likely,
if she's feeling that way. I hope so. I ain't
giving up the hermit job altogether — I'll come
back in the summers^ to my post-card business.
There's money in it, if it's handled right. But
I've spent my last winter on that lonesome hill."
"As author to author," asked Magee, "how
about your book?"
"There won't be any mention of that," the
hermit predicted, "in Brooklyn. I've packed it
away. Maybe I can work on it summers, if she
doesn't come up here with me and insist on run-
ning my hermit business for me. I hope she
won't, it would sort of put a crimp in it — but if
she wants to I won't refuse. And maybe that
book'll never get done. Sometimes as I've sat in
my shack at night and read, it's come to me that
all the greatest works since the world began have
been those that never got finished."
The Reuton train roared up to them through
the gray morning, and paused impatiently at
Upper Asquewan Falls. Aboard it clambered the
hermits, amateur and professional. Mr. Magee,
AS SHAKESPEARE HAS IT 365
from the platform, waved good-by to the agent
standing forlorn in the station door. He watched
the building until it was only a blur in the dawn.
A kindly feeling for it was in his heart. After
all, it had been in the waiting-room — -
THE admiral's GAME
THE village of Upper Asquewan Falls gave
a correct imitation of snow upon the des-
ert's dusty face, and was no more. Bidding a re-
luctant good-by to up-state romance, Mr. Magee
entered the solitary day coach which, with a
smoker, made up the local to Reuton. He spent
a few moments adjusting Mrs. Norton to her
new environment, and listened to her voluble ex-
pressions of joy in the fact that her boarding-
house loomed ahead. Then he started for the
smoker. On his way he paused at the seat occu-
pied by the ex-hermit of Baldpate, and fixed his
eyes on the pale blue necktie Mr. Peters had res-
urrected for his return to the world of men.
"Pretty, ain't it?" remarked the hermit, see-
ing whither Mr. Magee's gaze drifted. "She
picked it. I didn't exactly like it when she first
THE ADMIRAL'S GAME 367
gave it to me, but I see my mistake now. I'm
wearing it home as a sort of a white flag of truce.
Or almost white. Do you know, Mr. Magee,
I'm somewhat nervous about what I'll say when I
come into her presence again — about my inau-
gural address, you might put it. What would be
your conversation on such an occasion? If you'd
been away from a wife for five years, what would
you say when you drifted back?"
"That would depend," replied Magee, "on the
amount of time she allowed me for my speech."
"You've hit the nail on the head," replied Mr.
Peters admiringly. "She's quick. She's like
lightning. She won't give me any time if she
can help it. That's why I'd like to have a won-
derful speech all ready — something that would
hold her spellbound and tongue-tied until I fin-
ished. It would take a literary classic to do that."
"What you want," laughed Magee, "is a speech
with the punch."
"Exactly," agreed Mr. Peters. "I guess I
won't go over to Brooklyn the minute I hit New
York. I guess I'll study the lights along the
big street, and brush elbows with the world a
368 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
bit, before I reveal myself to her. Maybe if I
took in a few shows — but don't think I won't
go to her. My mind is made up. And I guess
she'll be glad to see me, too. In her way. I
got to fix it with her, though, to come back to
my post-card trade in the summers. I wonder
what she'll say to that. Maybe she could stay at
the inn under an assumed name while I was
hermiting up at the shack."
He laughed softly.
''It'd be funny, wouldn't it," he said. "Her sit-
ting on the veranda watching me sell post-cards to
the ladies, and listening to the various stories of
how a lost love has blighted my life, and so forth.
Yes, it'd be real funny — only Ellen never had
much sense of humor. That was always her
great trouble. If you ever marry, Mr. Magee,
and I suppose you will, take my advice. Marry
a sense of humor first, and a woman incidental-
Mr. Magee promised to bear this counsel in
mind, and went forward into the smoking-car.
Long rows of red plush seats, unoccupied save
for the mayor and Max, greeted his eye. He
THE ADMIRAL'S GAME 369
strolled to where they sat, about half-way down
the car, and lighted an after-breakfast cigar.
Max slouched in the unresponsive company of
a cigarette on one side of the car; across the aisle
the mayor of Reuton leaned heavily above a card-
table placed between two seats. He was playing
solitaire. Mr. Magee wondered whether this was
merely a display of bravado against scheming re-
formers, or whether Mr. Cargan found in it real
diversion. Curious, he slid into the place across
the table from the m^yor.
"Napoleon," he remarked lightly, "whiled away
many a dull hour with cards, I believe."
Clumsily the mayor shuffled the cards. He
flung them down one by one on the polished sur-
face of the table rudely, as though they were re-
form votes he was counting. His thick lips were
tightly closed, his big hands hovered with unac-
customed uncertainty over the pasteboards.
"Quit your kidding," he replied. "I don't be-
lieve cards was invented in Nap's day. Was they?
It's a shame a fellow can't have a little admiration
for a great leader like Nap without all you funny
boys jollying him about it. That boy sure knew
370 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
how to handle the voters. IVe read a lot about
him, and I like his style."
"You let history alone," snarled Mr. Max,
across the aisle, "or it'll repeat itself and another
guy I know'll go to the island."
"If you mean me," returned Cargan, "forget it.
There ain't no St. Helena in my future." He
winked at Magee. "Lou's a little peevish this
morning," he said. "Had a bad night."
He busied himself with the cards. Mr. Ma-
gee looked on, only half interested. Then, sud-
denly, his interest grew. He watched the mayor
build, in two piles; he saw that the deck from
which he built was thick. A weird suspicion shot
across his mind.
"Tell me," he asked, "is this the admiral's game
"Exactly what I was going to ask," said a voice.
Magee looked up. Kendrick had come in, and
stood now above the table. His tired eyes were
upon it, fascinated ; his lips twitched strangely.
"Yes," answered the mayor, "this is the ad-
miral's game. You'd hardly expect me to know
^t, would you ? I don't hang out at the swell clubs
THE ADMIRAL'S GAME 371
where the admiral does. They won't have me
there. But once I took the admiral on a public
service board with me — one time when I wanted
a lot of dignity and no brains pretty bad — and he
sort of come back by teaching me his game in the
long dull hours when we had nothing to do but
serve the public. The thing gets a hold on you,
somehow. Let's see — now the spade — now the
Kendrick leaned closer. His breath came with
a noisy quickness that brought the fact of his
breathing insistently to Magee's mind.
"I never knew — ^how it was played," he said.
Something told Mr. Magee that he ought to
rise and drag Kendrick away from that table.
Why? He did not know. Still, it ought to be
done. But the look in Kendrick's eyes showed
clearly that the proverbial wild horses could not
do it then.
"Tell me how it's played," went on Kendrick,
trying to be calm.
"You must be getting old," replied the mayor.
"The admiral told me the young men at his club
never took any interest in his ^ame. 'Solitaire,'
372 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
he says to me, *is an old man's trade/ It's a great
game, Mr.. Kendrlck."
*'A great game," repeated Kendrick, "yes, it's
a great game." His tone was dull. "I want to
know how it's played," he said again.
"The six of clubs," reflected the mayor, throw-
ing down another card. "Say, she's going fine
now. There ain't much to it. You use two decks,
exactly alike — shuffle 'em together — the eight of
hearts — the jack of — say, that's great — you lay
the cards down here, just as they come — like
He paused. His huge hand held a giddy paste-
board. A troubled look was on his face. Then
he smiled happily, and went on in triumph.
And then you build, Mr. Kendrick," he said.
The reds and the blacks. You build the blacks
on the left, and the reds on the right — do you
get me ? Then — say, what's the matter ?"
For Kendrick had swayed and almost fallen on
the admiral's game — the game that had once sent
a man to hell.
"Go on," he said, bracing. "Nothing's the
matter. Go on. Build, damn it, build !"
THE ADMIRAL'S GAME 373
The mayor looked at him a moment in surprise,
"Now the king," he muttered, "now the ace.
We're on the home stretch, going strong. There,
it's finished. It's come out right. A great game,
I tell you."
He leaned back. Kendrick's fever-yellowed
face was like a bronze mask. His eyes were
fiercely on the table and the two decks of cards
that lay there.
"And when you've finished," he pointed.
'''When you've finished — "
Mr. Cargan picked up the deck on the left.
"All black," he said, "when the game comes out
"And the other?" Kendrick persisted softly.
He pointed to the remaining deck. A terrible
smile of understanding drew his thin lips taut.
And the other, Mr. Cargan ?"
Red," replied Cargan. "What else could it
be? All red."
He picked it up and shuffled through it to prove
his point Kendrick turned like a drunken man
and staggered back down the aisle. Magee rose
374 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
and hurried after him. At the door he turned,
and the look on his face caused Magee to shud-
"You heard?" he said helplessly. "My God!
It's funny, isn't it?" He laughed hysterically,
and drawing out his handkerchief, passed it across
his forehead. "A pleasant thing to think about
— a pleasant thing to remember."
Professor Bolton pushed open the smoker door.
"I thought I'd join you," he began. "Why,
David, what is it? What's the matter?"
"Nothing," replied Kendrick wildly. "There's
nothing the matter. Let me — by — please." He
crossed the swaying platform and disappeared
into the other car.
For a moment the professor and Magee gazed
after him, and then without a word moved down
the car to join Cargan and Max. Magee's mind
was dazed by the tragedy he had witnessed. "A
pleasant thing to think about — " He did not
envy Kendrick his thoughts.
The mayor of Reuton had pushed aside the
cards and lighted a huge cigar.
"Well, Doc," he remarked jocosely, "how's
THE ADMIRAL'S GAME 375
trade? Sold any new schemes for renovating the
world to the up-state rubes? I should think this
would be sort of an off-season for the reform
business. Peace on earth, good will toward men
— that ain't exactly a good advertisement for the
reformers, is it?"
"It's an excellent one," replied Professor Bol-
ton. "The first essential of good will toward men
is not to rob and debauch them."
"Oh, well, Doc, don't let's argue the matter,'*
replied Cargan easily. "I ain't in the humor for
it, anyhow. You got your beliefs, and I got my
beliefs. And that ain't no reason why we should
not smoke a couple of good cigars together.
Have one ?"
"Thanks. I — " reluctantly the old man took a
gay-banded Havana from the mayor's huge fist.
"You're very kind."
"I suppose it's sort of a blow to you," the
^mayor went on, "that your plans up there on the
mountain went all to smash. It ought to teach
/ou a lesson. Doc There ain't nothing to the
The train slowed down at a small yellow sta-
2,^^ SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
tion. Mr. Magee peered out the window. "Hoop-
erstown," he read, "Reuton— lo miles." He saw
Mr. Max get up and leave the car.
"Not a thing to it. Doc," Cargan repeated.
"Your bunch has tried to get me before. YouVe
shouted from the housetops that you had the
goods on me. WTiat's always happened?"
"Your own creatures have acquitted you," re-
plied the professor, from a cloud pf Cargan
"Fair-minded men decided that I hadn't done
wrong. I tell you, Doc, there's dishonest graft,
and I'm against that always. And there's honest
graft — the rightful perquisites of a high office.
That's the trouble with you church politicians.
You can't see the difference between the two."
"I'm not a church politician," protested the
professor, "I'm bitterly opposed to the lily-white
crowd who continually rant against the thing they
don't understand. I'm practical, as practical as
you, and when — "
Noiselessly Mr. Max slid up to the group, and
stood silent, his eyes wide, his yellow face piti-
THE ADMIRAL'S GAME 377
ful, the fear of a dog about to be whipped in his
"Jim," he cried, "Jim! You got to get me out
of this. You got to stand by me."
"Why, what's the matter, Lou?" asked the
mayor in surprise.
"Matter enough," whined Max. '^Do you
know what's happened ? Well, I'll tell—"
Mr. Max was thrust aside, and replaced by a
train newsboy. Mr. Magee felt that he should
always remember that boy, his straw colored hair,,
his freckled beaming face, his lips with their
fresh perpetual smile.
"All the morning papers, gents," proclaimed
the boy. "Get the Reuton Star. All about the
He held up the paper. It*s huge black head-
lines looked dull and old and soggy. But the
story they told was new and live and startling.
"The Mayor Trapped," shrilled the head-lines.
"Attempt to Pass Big Bribe at Baldpate Inn
Foiled by Star Reporter. Hayden of the Subur-
ban Commits Suicide to Avoid Disgrace."
2,7^ SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Give me a paper, boy," said the mayor. "Yes
— a Star" His voice was even, his face un-
moved. He took the sheet and studied it, with
an easy smile. Clinging in fear to his side. Max
read, too. At length Mr. Cargan spoke, looking
up at Magee.
"So," he remarked. "So— reporters, eh ? You
and your lady friend? Reporters for this lying
sheet— the Starr
Mr. Magee smiled up from his own copy of
"Not I," he answered. "But my lady friend —
yes. It seems she was just that. A Star reporter
you can call her, and tell no lie, Mr. Mayor."
THE MAYOR IS WELCOMED HOME
IT was a good story — the story which the
mayor, Max, the professor and Magee read
with varying emotions there in the smoking-car.
The girl had served her employers well, and Mr.
Magee, as he read, felt a thrill of pride in her.
Evidently the employers had felt that same thrill.
For in the captions under the pictures, in the
head-lines, and in a first-page editorial, none of
which the girl had written, the Star spoke ad-
miringly of its woman reporter who had done a
man's work — who had gone to Baldpate Inn and
had brought back a gigantic bribe fund "alone
"Indeed?" smiled Mr. Magee to himself.
In the editorial on that first page the trium-
phant cry of the Star arose to shatter its fellows
in the heavens. At last, said the editor, the long
1380 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
campaign which his paper alone of all the Reuton
papers had waged against a corrupt city adminis-
tration was brought to a successful close. The
victory was won. How had this been accom-
plished? Into the Star office had come rumors,
a few days back, of the proposed payment of a
big bribe at the inn on Baldpate Mountain. The
paper had decided that one of its representatives
must be on the ground. It had debated long
whom to send. Miss Evelyn Rhodes, its well-
known special writer, had got the tip in question ;
she had pleaded to go to the inn. The editor,
considering her sex, had sternly refused. Then
gradually he had been brought to see the wisdom
of sending a girl rather than a man. The sex of
the former would put the guilty parties under sur-
veillance off guard. So Miss Rhodes was des-
patched to the inn. Here was her story. It con-
victed Cargan beyond a doubt. The very money
offered as a bribe was now in the hands of the
Star editor, and would be turned over to Prose-
cutor Drayton at his request. All this under the
disquieting title "Prison Stripes for the Mayor"„
The girl's story told how, with one companion.
WELCOMED HOME 381
she had gone to Upper Asquewan Falls. There
was no mention of the station waiting-room, nor
of the tears shed therein on a certain evening, Mr.
Magee noted. She had reached the inn on the
morning of the day when the combination was to
be phoned. Bland was already there, shortly
after came the mayor and Max.
"You got to get me out of this,'' Magee heard
Max pleading over Cargan's shoulder.
"Keep still!" replied the mayor roughly. He
was reading his copy of the Star with keen in-
"IVe done your dirty work for years," whined
Max. "Who puts on the rubber shoes and sneaks
up dark alleys hunting votes among the garbage,
while you do the Old Glory stunt on Main Street?
I do. You got to get me out of this. It may
mean jail. I couldn't stand that. I'd die."
A horrible parody of a man's real fear was in
his face. The mayor shook himself as though
he would be rid forever of the coward hanging
on his arm.
"Hush up, can't you?" he said. "I'll see you
382 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"You got to," Lou Max wailed.
Miss Rhodes' story went on to tell how Hay-
den refused to phone the combination; how the
mayor and Max dynamited the safe and secured
the precious package, only to lose it in another
moment to a still different contingent at the inn ;
how Hayden had come, of his suicide when he
found that his actions were in danger of ex-
posure — "a bitter smile for Kendrick in that" re-
flected Magee — and how finally, through a strange
series of accidents, the money came into the hands
of the writer for the Star. These accidents were
not given in detail.
"An amusing feature of the whole affair," said
Miss Evelyn Rhodes, "was the presence at the
inn of Mr. William Hallowell Magee, the New
York writer of light fiction, who had come there
to escape the distractions of a great city, and to
work in the solitude, and who immediately on his
arrival became involved in the surprising drama
I'm an amusing feature," reflected Magee.
'Mr. Magee," continued Miss Rhodes, "will
doubtless be one of the state's chief witnesses
WELCOMED HOME 383
when the case against Cargan comes to trial, as
will also Professor Thaddeus Bolton, holder of
the Crandall Chair of Comparative Literature at
Reuton University, and Mr. David Kendrick,
formerly pf the Suburban, but who retired six
years ago to take up his residence abroad. The
latter two went to the inn to represent Prosecutor
Drayton, and made every effort in their power
to secure the package of money from the reporter
for the Star, not knowing her connection with
"Well, Mr. Magee?" asked Professor Bolton,
laying down the paper which he had been perus-
ing at a distance of about an inch from his nose.
"Once again, Professor,'* laughed Magee, "re-
porters have entered your life."
The old man sighed.
"It was very kind of her," he said, "not to
mention that I was the person who compared
blondes of the peroxide variety with suffragettes.
Others will not be so kind. The matter will be
resurrected and used against me at the trial, Pm
sure. A plucky girl, Mr. Magee — a very plucky
girl. How times do change. When I was young,
384 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
girls of her age would scarcely have thought of
venturing forth into the highways on such peril-
ous missions. I congratulate you. You showed
unusual perception. You deserve a great reward
— the young lady's favor, let us say."
*^You got to get me out of this," Max was still
telling the mayor.
"For God's sake," cried Cargan, "shut up and
let me think." He sat for a moment staring at
one place, his face still lacking all emotion, but
his eyes a trifle narrower than before. "You
haven't got me yet," he cried, standing up. "By
the eternal, I'll fight to the last ditch, and I'll
win. I'll show Drayton he can't play this game
on me. I'll show the Star, That dirty sheet
has hounded me for years. I'll put it out of
business. And I'll send the reformers howling
into the alleys, sick of the fuss they started them-
"Perhaps," said Professor Bolton. "But only
after the fight of your life, Cargan."
"Fm ready for it," cried Cargan. "I ain't
down and out yet. But to think — a woman — a
little bit of a girl I could have put in my pocket
WELCOMED HOME 385
— it's all a big joke. I'll beat them — I'll show
them — the game's far from played out — I'll win
—and— if— I— don't— "
He crumbled suddenly into his seat, his eyes
on that unpleasant line about "Prison Stripes for
the Mayor". For an instant it seemed as though
his fight was irrevocably lost, and he knew it.
Lines of age appeared to creep from out the fat
folds of his face, and stand mockingly there. He
looked a beaten man.
"If I don't," he stammered pitifully, "well,
they sent him to an island at the end. The re-
formers got Napoleon at the last. I won't be
alone in that."
At this unexpected sight of weakness in his
hero, Mr. Max set. up a renewed babble of fear
at his side. The train was in the Reuton sub-
urbs now. At a neat little station it slowed down
to a stop, and a florid policeman entered the
smoking-car. Cargan looked up.
"Hello, Dan," he said. His voice was lifeless ;
the old-time ring was gone.
The policeman removed his helmet and shifted
386 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I thought Fd tell you, Mr. Cargan/* he said.
"I thought I'd warn you. You'd better get off
here. There's a big crowd in the station at Reu-
ton. They're waiting for you, sir; they've heard
you're on this train. This lying newspaper, Mr.
Cargan, it's been telling tales — I guess you know
about that. There's a big mob. You better get
off here, sir, and go down-town on a car."
If the mighty Cargan had looked limp and
beaten for a moment he looked that way no more.
He stood up, and his head seemed almost to
touch the roof of the car. Over that big patrol-
man he towered; his eyes were cold and hard
again ; his lips curved in the smile of the master.
"And why," he bellowed, "should I get off
here? Tell me that, Dan."
"Well, sir," replied the embarrassed copper,
"they're ugly. There's no telling what they might
do. It's a bad mob — this newspaper has stirred
"Ugly, are they?" sneered Cargan. "Ever
seen the bunch I would go put of my way for,
WELCOMED HOME 387
"I meant it all right, sir," said Dan. "As a
friend to a man who's been a friend to me. No,
I never saw you afraid of any bunch yet, but
"This," replied Cargan, "is the same old bunch.
The same lily-livered crowd that I've seen in the
streets since I laid the first paving stone under
'em myself in '91. Afraid of them? Hell! I'd
walk through an ant hill as scared as I would
through that mob. Thanks for telling me, Dan,
but Jim Cargan won't be in the mollycoddle class
for a century or two yet."
"Yes, sir," said the patrolman admiringly. He
hurried out of the car, and the mayor turned to
find Lou Max pale and fearful by his side.
"What ails you now?" he asked.
"I'm afraid," cried Max. "Did you hear what
he said? A mob. I saw a mob once. Never
again for me." He tried to smile, to pass it off
as a pleasant jest, but he had to wet his lips with
his tongue before he could go on. "Come on,
Jim. Get off here. Don't be a fool."
The train began to move.
388 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Get off yourself, you coward," sneered Car-
gan. "Oh, I know you. It doesn't take much
to make your stomach shrink. Get off."
Max eagerly seized his hat and bag.
"I will, if you don't mind," he said. "See ypu
later at Charlie's." And in a flash of tawdry at-
tire, he was gone.
The mayor of Reuton no longer sat limp in
his seat. That brief moment of seeming sur-
render was put behind forever. He walked the
aisle of the car, fire in his eyes, battle in his
"So they're waiting for me, eh?" he said
aloud. "Waiting for Jim Cargan. Now ain't
it nice of them to come and meet their mayor?"
Mr. Magee and the professor went into the
day coach for their baggage. Mrs. Norton mo-
tioned to the former.
"Well," she said, "you know now, I suppose.
And it didn't do you no harm to wait. I sure
am glad this to-do is all over, and that child is
safe. And I hope you'll remember what I said.
It ain't no work for a woman, no how, what with
the shooting and the late hours."
WELCOMED HOME 389
"Your words," said Mr. Magee, "are engraven
on my heart." He proceeded to gather her bag-
gage with his own, and was thus engaged when
Kendrick came up. The shadow of his discovery
in the smoking-car an hour before still haunted
his sunken eyes, but his lips were half smiling
with the new joy of living that had come to him.
"Mr. Magee," he began, "I hardly need men-
tion that the terrible thing which happened — in
there — is between you and me — and the man
who's dead. No one must know. Least of all,
the girl who is to become my wife — it would em-
bitter her whole life — as it has mine."
"Don't say that," Magee pleaded. "You will
forget in time, Fm sure. And you may trust me
— I had forgotten already." And indeed he had,
on the instant when his eyes fell upon the Reuton
Miss Thornhill approached, her dark smiling
eyes on Magee. Kendrick looked at her proudly,
and spoke suddenly, determinedly :
"You're right, I will forget. She shall help
"Mr. Magee," said the girl, "I'm so pleased
390 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
at the splendid end to your impulsive philan-
thropy. I just knew the adventure couldn't have
anything but a happy ending — it was so full of
youth and faith and — and charity or its synonym.
This mustn't be good-by. You must come and
see me — come and see us — all."
'T shall be happy to," answered Magee sin-
cerely. "It will always be a matter of regret to
me that I was not able to serve you — also — on
Baldpate Mountain. But out of it you come with
something more precious than fine gold, and that
shall be my consolation."
"Let it be," smiled Myra Thornhill, "as it is
surely mine. Good-by."
"And good luck," whispered Magee, as he took
Over his shoulder, as he passed to the platform,
he saw them look into each other's eyes, and he
felt that the memory of the admiral's game would
in time cease to haunt David Kendrick.
A shadow had fallen upon the train — the
shadow of the huge Reuton station. In the half-
light on the platform Mr. Magee encountered
the mayor of Reuton. Above the lessening roar
WELCOMED HOME 391
of the train there sounded ahead of them the
voices of men in turmoil and riot. Mr. Cargan
turned upon Magee a face as placid and dispas-
sionate as that of one who enters an apple or-
chard in May.
*'The boys," he smiled grimly, "welcoming me
Then the train came to a stop, and Mr. Magee
looked down into a great array of faces, and
heard for the first time the low unceasing rumble
of an angry mob. Afterward he marveled at that
constant guttural roar, how it went on and on,
humming like a tune, never stopping, disconnected
quite from the occasional shrill or heavy voices
that rang out in distinguishable words. The
mayor looked coolly down into those upturned
faces, he listened a moment to the rumble of a
thousand throats, then he took off his derby with
"Glad to see one and all !" he cried.
And now above the mutterings angry words
could be heard, "That's him," "That's two-
hundred-thousand-dollar Cargan," "How's the
weather on Baldpate ?" and other sarcastic flings.
392 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE ^
Then a fashion of derisive cat-calls came and
went. After which, here and there, voices spoke
of ropes, of tar and feathers. And still the
mayor smiled as one for whom the orchard gate
swung open in May.
A squad of policemen, who had entered the car
from the rear, forced their way out on to the
"Want us to see you through the crowd, Mr.
Cargan?" the lieutenant asked.
New hoots and cries ascended to the station
rafters. "Who pays the police?" "We do."
"Who owns 'em?" "Cargan." Thus question
and answer were bandied back and forth. Again
a voice demanded in strident tones the ignomin-
ious tar and feathers.
Jim Cargan had not risen from the slums to
be master of his town without a keen sense of the
theatric. He ordered the police back into the
car. "And stay there," he demanded. The lieu-
tenant demurred. One look from the mayor sent
him scurrying. Mr. Cargan took from his pocket
a big cigar, and calmly lighted it.
"Some of them guys out there," he remarked
WELCOMED HOME 393
to Magee, "belong to the Sunday-school crowd.
Pretty actions for them — pillars of the church
howling like beasts."
And still, like that of beasts, the mutter of the
mob went on, now in an undertone, now louder,
and still that voice that first had plead for tar
and feathers plead still — for feathers and tar.
And here a group preferred the rope.
And toward them, with the bland smile of a
child on his great face, his cigar tilted at one
angle, his derby at another, the mayor of Reuton
The roar became mad, defiant. But Cargan
stepped forward boldly. Now he reached the
leaders of the mob. He pushed his way in among
them, smiling but determined. They closed in
on him. A little man got firmly in his path. He
took the little man by the shoulders and stood
him aside with some friendly word. And now
he was past ten rows or more of them on his way
through, and the crowd began to scurry away.
They scampered like ants, clawing at one an-
other's backs to make a path.
And so finally, between two rows of them, the
394 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
mayor of Reuton went his way triumphantly.
Somewhere, on the edge of the crowd, an ad-
miring voice spoke. "Hello, Jim !" The mayor
waved his hand. The rumble of their voices
ceased at last. Jim Cargan was still master of
"Say what you will,*' remarked Mr. Magee
to the professor as they stood together on the
platform of the car, "there goes a man."
He did not wait to hear the professor's answer.
For he saw the girl of the Upper Asquewan sta-
tion, standing on a baggage truck far to the left
of the mob, wave to him over their heads.
Eagerly he fought his way to her side. It was
a hard fight, the crowd would not part for him
as it had parted for the man who owned the city.
THE USUAL THING
**TTELLO, Mr. Hold-up Man!" The girl
1 M seized Mr. Magee's proffered hand and
leaped down from the truck to his side.
"Bless the gods of the mountain," said Ma-
gee; "they have given me back my accomplice,
safe and sound."
"They were black lonesome gods," she re-
plied, "and they kept whispering fearful things in
my ear I couldn't understand. I'm glad they
didn't keep me."
"So am I." The crowd surged about them;
many in it smiled and spoke admiringly to the
girl. "It's great to be acquainted with the hero-
ine of the hour," Mr. Magee continued. "I con-
'gratulate you. You have overthrown an empire
of graft, it seems."
"Alone and unaided," she quoted, smiling
mockingly up into his face.
396 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"Absolutely alone and entirely unaided," said
Billy Magee. 'I'll swear to that In court."
Mrs. Norton panted up to them.
"Hello, dearie!" she cried. "Thank heaven
you're safe. Have you been up to the house?
How's Sadie getting along? I just know every-
thing is topsyturvy."
"Not at all," replied Miss Rhodes. "Breakfast
passed off like clockwork at seven, and even Mr.
Golden had no complaints to offer. Dear, I
must thank you for all you've done for me. It
was splendid — "
"Not now," objected Mrs. Norton. "I got to
get up to the house now. What with Christmas
only two days away, and a lot of shopping to be
done, I can't linger In this drafty station for
thanks. I want you to bring Mr. Magee right
up to the house for lunch. I'll have a meal ready
that'll show him what suffering must have been
going on inside me while I sat still watching that
hermit man burlesquing the cook business."
"Delighted," said Magee. "I'll find you a cab."
He led the way to a row of such vehicles, Mrs.
Norton and the girl following.
THE USUAL THING 397
''Seems like you're always putting me in a cab,"
remarked the older woman as she climbed inside.
"I don't know what Mary and me would have
done if it hadn't been for you. You're a mighty
handy person to have around, Mr. Magee. Ain't
he, dearie?" She winked openly at Magee.
"And a delightful one," agreed the girl, in a
Mrs. Norton was driven away up the snowy
street. As Mr. Magee and the girl turned, they
beheld the Hermit of Baldpate staring with un-
disguised exultation at the tall buildings of Reu-
Why, it's Mr. Peters!" the girl cried.
Yes," replied Magee. "His prediction has
come true. We and our excitement proved too
much for him. He's going back to Brooklyn and
"I'm so glad," she cried. She stretched out
her hand to the hermit. He took it, somewhat
"Glad to see you," he said. "You certainly
appear to have stirred things up, miss. But
women are good at that. I've always said — "
398 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
*'Mr. Magee tells me you're going back, after
all?" she broke in.
"Yes," returned Peters. "I knew it. I told
you so. It was all right in the summer, when
the bands played, and the warm wind was her-
miting on the mountain, too. But in the fall, it's
always been hard, and I've heard the white lights
calling, calling — why, I've even heard her — heard
Ellen. This fall you came, and there was some-
thing doing on Baldpate — and I knew that when
you went, I'd just naturally have to go, too. So
— I'm going."
"Splendid," commented the girl.
"It'll be somewhat delicate," continued the her-
mit, "bursting in on Ellen after all these years.
As I told Mr. Magee, I wish I had an inaugural
address, or something like that."
"I have it," responded Evelyn Rhodes. "I'll
write a story about you for to-morrow morning's
paper. All about how the Christmas spirit has
overcome the Hermit of Baldpate, and how he's
going back to his wife, with his heart filled with
love for her — it is filled, isn't it?"
THE USUAL THING 399
"Well, yes," agreed Mr. Peters. "I reckon
you might call it that."
"And then you can send her a copy of the
paper, and follow it up in person." ,
^A good idea," commented Billy Magee.
'At first glance, yes," studied Peters. "But,
on the other hand, it would be the death knell
of my post-card business, and I'm calculating to
go back to Baldpate next summer and take it
up again. No, I'm afraid I can't let it be gen-
erally known that I've quit living in a shack on
the mountain for love of somebody or other."
"Once more," smiled Magee, "big business
muzzles the press."
"Not that I ain't obliged to you for the offer,"
added the hermit.
"Of course," said the girl, "I understand. And
I wish you the best of luck — along with a merry
"The same to you," replied the hermit heartily.
"Miss — er — Miss Rhodes and I will see you
again," predicted Mr. Magee, "next summer at
400 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
The hermit looked at the girl, who turned her
"I hope it'll turn out that way, I'm sure," he
said. "I'll let you have a reduction on all post-
cards, just for old times' sake. Now I must find
out about the New York trains."
He melted into the crowd, an odd figure still,
his garb in a fashion long forgotten, his clumsily
hacked hair brushing the collar of his ancient
coat. Magee and the girl found the check room,
and after he had been relieved of the burden of
his baggage, set out up the main street of Reuton.
It was a typical up-state town, deep in the throes
of the holiday season. The windows of the stores
were green with holly; the faces of the passers-by
reflected the excitements of Christmas and of the
upheaval in civic politics which were upon them
"Tell me," said the girl, "are you glad — at the
way it has turned out? Are you glad I was no
lady Captain Kidd ?"
"It has all turned out — or is about to turn out
— ^beautifully," Mr. Magee answered. "You may
remember that on the veranda of Baldpate Inn I
THE USUAL THING 401
spoke of one summer hotel flirtation that: was
going to prove more than that. Let me — "
Her laugh interrupted.
You don't even know my name."
What's the matter with Evelyn Rhodes?"
"Nothing. It's a perfectly good name. But it
isn't mine. I just write under it."
*T prefer Mary, anyhow," smiled Billy Magee.
"She called you that. It's Mary."
"You have no idea," said he, "how immaterial
They came upon a throng blocking the sidewalk
in front of a tall building of stone. The eyes of
the throng were on bulletins ; it muttered much as
they had muttered who gathered in the station.
"The office of the Star/' explained the girl.
"The crowd is looking for new excitement. Do
you know, for two whole hours this morning we
had on exhibition in the window a certain pack-
age — a package of money!"
*T think," smiled Magee, "I've seen it some-
402 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
"I thinlc you have. Drayton came and toolc it
from us as soon as he heard. But it was the very
best proof we could have offered the people. They
like to see for themselves. It's a passion with
Uhem. We've done for Cargan forever."
"Cargan says he will fight."
"Of course he will," she replied. "But this will
prove Napoleon's Waterloo. Whether or not he
is sent to prison — and perhaps he can escape that,
he's very clever — his power in Reuton is broken.
He can't possibly win at the next election — it
comes very soon. I'm so glad. For years pur
editor has been fighting corruption, in the face of
..terrible odds and temptations. I'm so glad it's
over now — and the Star has won."
;' "Through you," said Magee softly.
"With — some one — to help," she smiled. "I
(must go up-stairs now and find out what new task
is set for me."
Mr. Magee postponed the protest on the tip of
" his tongue, and, climbing the gloomy stairs that
newspapers always affect, they came into the city
room of the Star. Though the paper had been
long on the street, the excitement of the greatest
THE USUAL THING 403
coup of years still lingered in the place. Magee
saw the deferential smiles that greeted the girl,
and watched her as she made her way to the city
editor's desk. In a moment she was back at his
"I've got my assignment," she smiled ruefully.
They descended to the street. "It's wonderful,'*
she went on, "how curt a city editor can be with
any one who pulls off a good story. The job I've
got now reminds me of the experience of an old
New York reporter who used to work on the
With difficulty they threaded their way through
the crowd, and moved along beside the green-
"He was the first man sent out by his paper on
Park Row on the Spanish War assignment," she
went on, "and he behaved rather brilliantly, I be-
lieve. Well, he came back after the fight was
over, all puffed up and important, and they told
him the city editor wanted him. 'They're going
to send me to the Philippines,' he told me he
thought as he went into the presence. When the
city editor ordered him to rush down to a two-
404 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
alarm fire in Houston Street he nearly collapsed.
I know how he felt. I feel that way now."
"What was it — a one-alarm fire?" asked Ma-
"No," she replied, "a sweet little story about
the Christmas toys. I've done it to death every
Christmas for — three years. Oh, well, I can do
it again. But it'll have to wait until after Airs.
She led him into a street where every house
was like its neighbor, even to the "Rooms" sign
in the windows, and up the steps of one she could
have recognized only by counting from the cor-
ner. They entered the murky and stereotyped
atmosphere of a boarding-house hallway, with
its inevitable hat-rack and the uncollected letters
of the homeless on a table. Mrs. Norton came
breezily forth to meet them.
"Well, Mr. Magee," she said, "I certainly am
glad you've came. I'm busy on that lunch now.
Dearie, show him into the parlor to wait."
Mr. Magee was shown in. That rooming-
house parlor seemed to moan dismally as it re-
ceived him. He strolled about and gazed at the
THE USUAL THING 405
objects of art which had at various times accrued
to Mrs. Norton's personaHty: a steel engraving
called Too Late, which depicted an angry father
arriving at a church door to find his eloping
daughter in the arms of stalwart youth, with
the clergy looking on approvingly; another of
Mr. John Drew assuming a commanding posture
as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew; some
ennuied flabby angels riding on the clouds; a
child of unhealthy pink clasping lovingly an in-
flammable dog; on the mantel a miniature ship,
under glass, and some lady statuettes whose toil-
ettes slipped down — down.
And, on an easel, the sad portrait of a gentle-
man, undoubtedly the late lamented Norton. His
uninteresting nose appeared to turn up at the con-
stant odor of cookery in which it dwelt ; his hair
was plastered down over his forehead in a
gorgeous abandoned curve such as some of the
least sophisticated pf Mr. John T. McCutcheon's
Mr. Magee stared round the room and smiled.
Was the romance of reality never to resemble the
romance of his dreams? Where were the dim
4o6 SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE
lights, where the distant waltz, where the magic
of moonlight amid which he was some day to
have told a beautiful girl of his love? Hardly in
Mrs. Norton's parlor.
She came and stood in the doorway. Hatless,
coatless, smiling, she flooded the place with her
beauty. Mr. Magee looked at the flabby angels
on the wall, expecting them to hide their faces in
shame. But no, they still rode brazenly their un-
*'Come in," he cried. "Don't leave me alone
here again, please. And tell me — is this the gen-
tleman who took the contract for making Mrs.
"I — I can't come in," she said, blushing. She
seemed to wish to avoid him. *'Yes, that is Mr.
Norton." She came nearer the easel, and smiled
at the late lamented's tonsorial crown. "I must
leave you — just a moment — "
Billy Magee's heart beat wildly. His breath
came fast. He seized her by the hand.
"You're never going to leave me again," he
cried. "Don't you know that? I thought you
knew. You're mine. I love you. I love you.
THE USUAL THING 407
It's all I can say, my dearest. Loot at me — look
at me, please."
"It has happened so quickly," she murmured.
"Things can't be true when they — ^happen so
"A woman's logic," said Mr. Magee. "It has
happened. My beautiful girl. Look at me."
And then — she looked. Trembling, flushed,
half frightened, half exultant, she lifted her eyes
"My little girl !" he cried down at her.
A moment longer she held off, and then limply
she surrendered. And Billy Magee held her close
in his arms.
"Take care of me," she whispered. "I — I love
ypu so." Her arm went timidly about his shoul-
ders. "Do you want to know my name? It's
Mary what? The answer was seemingly of no
importance, for Mr. Magee's lips were on hers,
crushing the word at its birth.
So they stood, amid Mrs. Norton's gloomy ob-
jects of art. And presently she asked :
"How about the book, dear ?"
4o8 SEVEN KEYS TO, BALDPATE
But Mr. Magee had forgot.
What book ?" he asked.
The novel you went to Baldpate to write.
Don't you remember, dearest — no melodrama, no
wild chase, no — ^love?"
"Why — " Mr. Magee paused for a moment In
the joy of his discovery. Then he came back to
the greater joy in his arms.
"Why, darling," he explained gently, "this
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